How Omoku Area Command Police Humiliated and disgraced a Lawyer and Collected N60,000 bail money from his clients over civil matter
A Portharcourt based Legal Practitioner and a member of Nigerian Bar Association, Chukwudi S. Onyimah, Esq, has petitioned the commissioner of Police of police, Rivers State Command over humiliation he suffered in the hands of Policemen of Police Area Command, Omoku Rivers state.
The Lawyer’s Ordeal started when he was briefed by six farmers in ONELGA over an invitation to the police Area Command in Omoku. When he arrived at the Police Station from Port Harcourt, One CSP Elijah Eleke who was in charge of the division humiliated him and his client for the effrontery of his client to enter the police station with a lawyer.
The Police thereafter locked up the six clients and chased the lawyer out of the station. The police further refused to accept bail application of the lawyer.
According to a petition written to the Police CP, Rivers State by the Lawyer and copied to ICPC and other agencies, the lawyer, described how his clients was extorted 60 thousand Naira in bail money after the policemen initially rejected his pleas for bail.
Below is a copy of the petition from the Lawyer sighted by BarristerNG;
THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE,
RIVERS STATE COMMAND,
STATE COMMAND HEADQUARTERS,
MOSCOW ROAD, PORT HARCOURT,
THE PETITION OF C.S. ONYIMAH, ESQ. AGAINST CSP ELIJAH ELEKE, 2I/C AREA COMMANDER, OMOKU AREA COMMAND HEADQUARTERS AND SGT. MATTHEW NATHANIEL ON A CASE OF UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES
The above subject refers please.
- I, C.S. Onyimah, Esq., legal practitioner of Agorondu & Agorondu and member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Omoku Branch hereby petition your esteemed office to convey my profound concerns and distaste on the very corrupt practices and unprofessional conduct of one of your men serving at the Omoku Police Area Command Headquarters as 2I/C Commander (2nd in Command), Mr. Elijah Eleke, a Chief Superintendent of Police (hereinafter referred to as CSP Elijah) and Sgt. Matthew Nathaniel; and to formally request investigation and appropriate disciplinary action whereof.
- The very unfortunate and regrettable incident giving rise to this petition is hereunder set out as follows:
- That on Friday 13/09/2019, six persons namely Mr. Emeka Ekwenze, Mr. Uche Duaka, Mr. Sampson Agworo, Mr. Ndubuisi Nnamdi and one Mr. Israel who are farmers living and farming in Umu-Ajie village in Ndoni District of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) (hereinafter referred to as my clients) were served with a police invitation on the instructions of CSP Elijah, to appear at the Omoku Police Area Command Headquarters on 14/09/2019 by 10:am in respect of an investigation of an alleged case of Conduct Likely To Cause The Breach Of The Peace. A copy of the invitation is herein attached.
- I was contacted and briefed as their legal representative in respect of the invitation. Consequently, I advised them to honour the invitation and assured them of my presence to accompany them to the station as they requested.
- When we got to the Omoku Police Area Command Headquarters on Saturday 14/09/2019 by 10:am, we had to wait for Matthew Nathaniel who is the Investigation Police Officer in charge of the matter (and hereinafter referred to as the IPO), as he was out of the station. We waited for about two hours.
- The IPO arrived the police station at about 12:32pm. From my preliminary interaction with the IPO, he informed me that the complainant, an elderly man who was also present had alleged in his statement that my clients went to their farms on a day the villagers were customarily forbidden from going to the farm, which according to him amounted to conduct likely to cause the breach of the peace, hence their invitation to the Omoku Police Area Command Headquarters for a detailed investigation. My clients promptly refuted the allegation.
- The IPO thereafter took the complainant to meet with CSP Elijah in his office. Few minutes later, the IPO came out. He invited my clients into CSP Elijah’s office. The IPO told me to my face before my clients that CSP Elijah has instructed that I should not be allowed entry to his office with my clients.
- Perhaps (my thoughts) I needed to politely explain to CSP Elijah that I am the legal representatives of my clients and I came all the way from Port Harcourt in respect of his invitation, on my clients’ request.
- As soon as I got into CSP Elijah’s office, he violently flared up, fiercely threatening to first deal with me physically before ordering my detention if I did not get out of his office immediately. He then descended on my clients for their effrontery in briefing and coming with a lawyer over the matter and ordered the IPO to lock them up in the detention cell.
- He also instructed the officers in charge of the detention cells never to allow me access to my clients. I was asked to wait for my clients in court whenever the investigation is concluded. Thereafter, CSP Elijah drove out of the station after giving his orders.
- I sought audience with the Area Commander whom I was told was not on seat that day, leaving me and my clients at the whims and mercy of CSP Elijah, the second in command.
- I explained to the IPO that the allegation against my clients to which they have all individually refuted, was not even an offence but could at worst, be described as a purely civil matter or at best, a village matter that is usually resolved traditionally by the villagers; that even if it is true, it was not an offence known to law for which my clients could be detained. He told me he was only following the instructions of his superior, CSP Elijah.
- When one of the relatives of my client arrived the station, I applied in writing for the release
- or bail of my clients, but the IPO refused to receive my application letter for bail. I made efforts to submit the application to the office of the Area Commander even though he was not on seat, but the officers bluntly refused to receive anything from me. One officer Solomon on duty informed me that they have been instructed by CSP Elijah not to attend to or receive any letter from me. The Application for Bail is herein attached. I was helpless, stranded and frustrated as a lawyer.
- Before leaving the station at about 5:47pm, I met the IPO again who then informed me that his boss, CSP Elijah has instructed him to discuss the bail of my clients directly with their relatives only.
- He further informed me in the presence of my client’s relative (a lady pastor) that CSP Elijah has instructed him to demand Thirty Thousand Naira (N30, 000.00) on each of my six clients from their relative as bail money, she was also asked to provide four persons to stand as sureties before my clients would be freed from detention, otherwise, they would remain in custody and be taken to court whenever the police conclude with their investigation, however long it takes them. The lady objected to the demand and rather dared them to charge her brothers in court instead.
- However, later in the night of same day at about 10.22pm, one of my clients, Mr. Emeka Ekwenze called me to inform me that he and the other five clients have just been granted bail after their relatives had paid the IPO the total sum of Sixty Thousand Naira (N60, 000.00) at the sum of Ten Thousand Naira (N10, 000.00) on each of them as the only condition to secure their freedom.
- Sir, in the light of the foregoing set of facts, this petition most humbly prays your esteemed office to direct an investigation into the sets of facts contained therein, with a view to ascertaining the veracity of the foregoing complaint against CSP Elijah and the IPO, officers under your command, control and supervision and if proven, effect the following demands to wit:
- Activate the appropriate machineries to ensure the application of adequate disciplinary measures and sanctions against them.
- Any other official procedures deserving of the justice of this case in the circumstance, in accordance with police service rules and manual.
- Sir, your kind and prompt response to this complaint and your taking appropriate action on the aforementioned demands thereof will assure me, my Chambers: Agorondu & Agorondu, the Nigerian Bar Association (particularly Omoku Branch), relevant anti-graft and human rights agencies and organizations, civil society bodies and ofcourse members of the general public who may later become seised of this matter, that the Rivers State Police Command under your leadership, superintendence and command does not and would not tolerate or condone any act of bribery and corrupt practices, police brutality, abuse of human rights and unprofessional conduct by officers under your firm watch, and that you do not shield or protect any errant officer from being sanctioned and or held accountable to face the law, if or whenever he commits any such infraction.
- However Sir, if after ten days of the receipt of this petition, my complaint herein fails to get the attention and prompt action it deserves from your good self, I am determined and committed with the full backing of the law office of Agorondu & Agorondu (Omarunma Chambers) to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion including but not limited to further petitioning superior hierarchy of the Nigerian Police Force, involving the Omoku Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Nigerian Bar Association, the National Human Rights Commission and other relevant human rights agencies and organizations and ofcourse, enforcing the fundamental human rights of my clients in court to ensure that this matter receives the deserved attention, and that CSP Elijah is sanctioned and finally brought to book.
- Commissioner Sir, it is the desire of every patriotic Nigerian that while we appreciate the good efforts of the Nigerian Police in fighting crime in the country, the incessant cases of police brutality and unprofessional acts of violence against young lawyers, the vexed issue of money for bail in Nigerian police stations and similar corrupt extortions from innocent Nigerian citizens, are reduced to the barest minimum. It could as well begin with this very case.
Please accept the assurances of my esteemed respects.
Yours in the hallowed temple of justice,
Chukwudi S. Onyimah, Esq.
- The Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Omoku Branch.
- The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.
- The Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Port Harcourt Zonal Office
- The Inspector General of Police.
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