Opinion | Uzodinma’s draconian decree and the fate of a battered Imo populace ~ By Johnbull Chikwe
A man who came to power under the circumstances as Senator Hope Uzodimma did, would have been more concerned about how to earn the people’s confidence through some people oriented policies and programs, but the man at the helm in the People’s House is obviously toying with the Joseph Stalin idea of extreme oppression as a means to bring the people to their knees and leave them with no option but to accept their subjugation as a fate they must live with. But, is too enlightened to fall like the Soviet Union of the 1930s. If the few educated people around Uzodimma would talk to him, they would advise him that Stalinism is a tested and defeated idea, that will never resurrect.
The signing into law of a most draconian, insensitive, irresponsible, yet impracticable Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law by Senator Hope Uzodimma, clears every doubt about the Omuma born politician’s educational deficiencies as well the embarrassment that the current crop of Assembly members in the State have become, if truly they appended their signatures to such piece of shit, called law. The law also betrays the governor as an insecure leader who is not oblivious of his loud unpopularity among the people he leads, hence, his resort to the enactment of a law that may cow the people into silence.
With respected legal practitioners and responsible gentlemen like Hon. Arthur Egwim, who represents me, being in that house, I will be dead shocked if it is truly confirmed that the bill, preceding this law really passed through the House of Assembly. It won’t be totally surprising to me, if it is discovered that the offensive part of this law was injected without the knowledge of most house members. With a Chiji Collins as Speaker, such infamy won’t be completely surprising.
Section 484 of the new ACJL clearly providee thus; “Where any person is ordered to be detained during the governor’s pleasure, he shall notwithstanding anything in this law or any other written law be liable to be detained in such place and under such conditions as the governor may direct and whilst so detained shall be deemed to be under legal custody.” One does not need to be a lawyer to know that this section of the law, as ridiculous as it sounds, also conflicts with Section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic, which makes it illegal for the police to detain any suspect beyond 48 hours without charging him or her to court, and therefore renders this decree a nullity.
The law further provides that such detainee’s to be granted a ‘license’ by the governor whenever he decides for them to be released. This is a clear attempt by the governor to undermine the judiciary, by standing as both the complaint as well as the arbiter in his own case, and further exposes the governor as one with a pathetic disdain for the judiciary and without regard to democratic ethos.
By this law, Hope Uzodimma makes his ambition of becoming a maximum ruler explicit. He could wake up one day and arbitrarily order the detention of anyone he is uncomfortable with his or her face or audacity. And this detainee would be unable to approach the courts for a redress and protection of his fundamental human rights.
Critics, journalists, activists and opposition politicians would no doubt be in grave danger of arbitrary arrests and endless detentions, with this law in place as the governor may direct.” This means that the governor could direct that his critic should be picked up by any of his thugs, for instance, and detained in his toilet and be fed with faeces, and this would be deemed legal detention as long as this new law is in force. Some people believe that this is another way by which the governor may want to legalize kidnapping and disapearance of those he wishes to deal with.
This law did not state whether the arresting authority would be the police, DSS or any other known law enforcement agency, but vaguely states that individual would be “deemed to be in lawful detention in SUCH PLACE and other SUCH CONDITIONS.
Even notorious criminals have a right before the law and should a law as reprehensible as this be allowed to stand, then, no one could be said to be safe anywhere in Imo State.
With pensioners, civil servants and even contractors in the State denied of their legitimate entitlements, this law may be aimed at making sure that they do not speak up or protest the ill-treatments being meted to them by the Hope Uzodimma administration.
This may be a law aimed at putting fears into Imolites, thereby denying them of th right to cry when they are beaten, but history is replete with how such insecure leaders who attempted to use intimidation and fears as tools to subjugate their subjects, ended. Maybe, one or two people will be used as scapegoats to test this illegal law, but we can be rest assured that such lawlessness will not survive in this 21st century and in Imo, with one of the most enlightened population in Nigeria.
Imo will win!