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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Court to Police: You can’t arrest before investigation

A Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State has told the police that they have no power to arrest any suspect before investigation.

This was coming pursuant to a fundamental human right matter brought before the court by a lawyer, Mr. Ndubuisi Onyeakpa.

Onyeakpa had in the petition alleged that no fewer than 20 policemen had scaled his wall and invaded his family house at about 2am for the purpose of arresting him.

He said his offence was that he was the lawyer to a section of his community on a land matter.

Onyeakpa maintained that as a lawyer, he had the legal right to defend any person that sought his services.

He, therefore, asked the court to stop the police from harassing and intimidating him.

Consequently, the court gave an interim order granting Onyeakpa’s pleas.

But in a resumed hearing on Tuesday June 14, 2016, before Justice I. N. Uwaigbo, the police asked the court to vacate the order on the matter, contending that there was suppression of material facts when the order was granted.

Arguing on point of law, the police lawyer, Mr. Onwuka, submitted that no court could restrain the police from inviting and investigating any suspect in any crime.

He maintained that any person invited by the police was obliged by law to report for investigation and that was what the police did in the case of Onyeakpa.

He urged the court to vacate its interim order on the arrest of Onyeakpa.

The counsel to Onyeakpa, Mr. Zokas Aniazoka, in his preliminary objection to the police motion, submitted that the environment that warranted the interim order restraining the police from intimidating and harassing Onyeakpa was still there.

He said to vacate the order would amount to giving the police an undue freedom to continue to harass and intimidate his client.

Aniazoka contended that the murder case in which Onyeakpa was purportedly being investigated was of no effect anymore as a police postmortem had declared that the victim died of a natural cause.

He urged the court to sustain the interim order as there was no suppression of any material fact when the order was granted by the court as alleged by the respondent.

Aniazoka contended that it was trite and settled law that the police had no powers to arrest anybody before investigation.

He implored the court to discountenance the police motion, adding that to do otherwise would amount to glorifying impunity.

Justice Uwaigbo, who sustained the order in his ruling, upheld the submissions of the applicant’s lawyer (Aniazoka), stressing that there was no suppression of material facts when the order was granted.

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