Imo Judiciary, The Police And Awaiting Trial Inmates In Owerri Prisons
I am constrained to write on the above subject matter, given that as a concerned citizen, it is my responsibility to draw the attention of government on their insensitive actions, open the minds of the reading public, and where necessary, issue a threat in order to force those concerned to do the right thing. The judiciary is supposed to be the last hope of the common man. The judiciary through its platforms (that is, the courts) provides the opportunity for the oppressed common man to express himself or herself.
The oppressed common man gets justice through the courts. The oppressed common man secures his freedom through the courts. But most unfortunately in Imo State, it is not so. The oppressed common man is denied justice. The oppressed common man is denied freedom.
The oppressed common man is denied the opportunity to defend or express himself. This is the Naked truth. There is an alleged conspiracy between the Imo Police and the Imo Judiciary to continue to oppress the less privileged in our society. The voiceless are completely silenced in Imo State. Thanks to the moribund Imo Judiciary and the shameless Imo State Police Command.
It is worrisome to note that the less privileged innocent citizens who are awaiting trial inmates at the Owerri Federal Prisons have suffered untold hardship and neglect in the hands of the Imo State Judiciary under the leadership of the current Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Paschal Nnadi. It is on record that Justice Paschal Nnadi was named the Chief Judge of the state in December 2014.
It was expected that the Paschal Nnadi led Judiciary would ensure that the oppressed innocent Prison inmates who are awaiting trials would get justice. Unfortunately rather than be allowed the opportunity to defend themselves and perhaps secure freedom, they have been subjected to Psychological torture and denial of Justice, through the closure of our courts under the guise that the Judiciary is on “strike”.
This is nonsensical nonsense and mere wickedness. Since the past 18 months (one year and six months) that Justice Paschal Nnadi became the Chief Judge of the state, the Judiciary has gone on strike on three consecutive times. The first strike lasted for almost three months; the second strike lasted for over two months. The third strike has entered its second month, and there is no sign that it would be called off. The law courts have been under lock and key, which has directly affected the fate of innocent prison inmates awaiting trials in Imo State.
Honestly, this judicial imbroglio signifies incompetence in the hands of the current leadership. At this point, let me inform the public that 70% of Awaiting trial inmates at the Owerri Federal Prisons are completely innocent of the allegations for which they were remanded in prisons. The courts which would have provided the platform for these innocent inmates to prove their innocence are under lock and key. Thanks to the senseless, meaningless and useless strike embarked upon by the judiciary.
Also, many of these innocent inmates have applied for bail (for bailable alleged offences), but the insensitive nature of the Imo State judiciary has continued to frustrate them. The Owerri Federal Prisons originally has the capacity for about 800 inmates, but today there are about 2400 inmates. Despite the fact that the courts in Imo State are not open, special courts sessions are held where suspects from the Imo State Police Command are brought or arraigned, and finally remanded at the over-congested Owerri Federal Prisons. This happened just few days ago. Through this conspiracy, the populations of inmates at the Owerri Prisons have continued to increase, to the detriment of both the Prison officials and the inmates.
Let me be clear here:
I have no sympathy for criminals who are either detained at Police stations or those remanded at the Prisons. I shade no tears for them. This crusade is purely for the innocent Prison inmates who have been denied the opportunity to either defend themselves at the courts, or get bail; due to the strike action embarked upon by the judiciary in Imo State.
Even when the courts are in session; corruption, long adjournments, absenteeism and perhaps deliberate manipulation of judicial process, have been adopted to suffocate and indeed frustrate the desired freedom of these innocent awaiting trial inmates at the Owerri Prisons. The resultant effect is that these innocent inmates remain in Prison custody for a long time. There are innocent prisons inmates who have stayed 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and more years, and are yet to get their desired justice and freedom.
The Plan is for them to perpetually remain in Prison. The Imo State Police Command and its very corrupt officers are part of this conspiracy against the innocent inmates. They connive with equally corrupt and evil men in the society to accuse people of crimes they never committed.
The next thing will be the arraignment of such people in Courts, after which they would be remanded in Prison custody. Once this goal is achieved, the courts will go on “strike”, all in a bid to frustrate the innocent citizens from regaining freedom. This is the pattern in Imo State, and I stand to be challenged.
The above narrative happened to me and my wife on the 3rd of June 2014, when the shameless, hopeless and useless officers of Imo State Police Command connived with the disgraced and very corrupt then speaker of Imo State House of Assembly (Mr. Benjamin Uwajumogu) to accuse us of murder, after they failed to assassinate me.
Despite having the names of the five boys that committed the said crime, the shameless and very corrupt Imo State Police Command let by a rogue Commissioner of Police (Mr. Abdulmajid Ali) charged my wife and I to court for murder and we were remanded at Owerri Prisons. Abdulmajid Ali is now the current Police Commissioner in Ogun State.
As a warrior, I fought hard before regaining my freedom eleven months later. Before then, landmines were laid on my path by the shameless Imo Police Command, the Judiciary and the Powers that be. But Almighty God in his majestic glory proved himself worthy of praise and honour; by using a woman of God in Judicial rope (Hon. Justice Irene Duruoha – Igwe) to give me justice on the 27th of April 2015.
Conversely, using the same template, the Imo State Police Command connive with the corrupt members of the Public, and even officials in government circle to accuse innocent people of crimes they never committed. They charge them to court and are remanded in prison custody. O yes, they charge them to courts, even when the courts are not open. Even when the judiciary is on ‘’strike’’, special courts will be used to remand them in prison.
The questions now are; if special courts are used to remand people in prison custody, even when the courts are not open; why can’t special courts be used to grant inmates with bailable alleged offences bail? Why can’t special courts be used to discharge and acquit innocent inmates? Why can’t special courts be used to quash frivolous allegations against some of the inmates? This is where I am worried.
It pains me, it worries me and it hurts me to see and observe that innocent people are in prison custody, and the judiciary that is supposed to be the last hope of the oppressed, has been made moribund by unnecessary strike actions. It is therefore obvious that there is a design to frustrate the youths. 95% of the inmates at Owerri Federal Prisons are indeed youths.
If the son of the Chief Judge of Imo State is in Prison custody awaiting trial (perhaps, over an alleged bailable offence), will Justice Paschal Nnadi keep quiet and allow his son to remain in custody, even when the courts are on strike? Same question for Governor Rochas Okorocha, Deputy Governor Eze Madumere, Speaker Acho Ihim, CP Taiwo Lakanu etc.
I need an answer. As a socio – Political crusader who is always fighting for the less privileged in our society, and who is always fighting for the oppressed and the very innocent; I have boldly stepped out to demand that the so called strike by the judiciary be called off, within one week of this publication. The law courts should be opened, so that innocent inmates can assess their freedom.
The Imo State Judiciary must not shoot itself on the foot this time around. I say this because if after one week of this appeal and the so called strike is not called off, they will have themselves to blame. The ROT in the Imo State Judiciary will made public for the whole world to read.
The names of corrupt Judges and Magistrates will be made public. The names of absentee Judges and Magistrate will be made public. Corruption in the Imo Judiciary will be made public. And many more issues. Also, the ROT in the Imo State Police Command will equally be made public. There will be no sentiments.
At this point, it is expedient to let Governor Rochas Okorocha know that he cannot stand aloof and allow innocent inmates at Owerri Federal Prisons to continue to suffer in the hands of the moribund Imo State Judiciary. If he is truly the leader of Imo State, then he must step into the matter by ensuring that the judiciary calls off its strike within one week of this publication, and also see that 70% of the inmates who are innocent of the alleged crimes are released.
Nevertheless, if at the end of one week the courts are not open, the rot in the Judiciary will be exposed. And there will be no mercy. The time to expose and clean the Augean stable in the Imo State Judiciary and Imo State Police Command has come.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY. I rest my pen.
Signed: Citizen (Dr.) Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha FCAI, MKDA Former Senior Special Assistant on Media Former Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties Imo State House of Assembly Owerri – Imo, Nigeria 10th June 2016. 07032934037 Please follow me on [email protected]