Ben Dunno, Warri
A human rights lawyer, Barrister Presley Okojie, has decried inhuman treatment melted out to his client, one Bishop Elijah Urhonigbe, by the police in Delta state, following court order remanding him at Warri Custodial centre, Okere, pending determination of his bail hearing.
Specifically, he indicted the Warri Area Commander, ACP Mukhtar Garba, for instructing his men in the cell where he is currently being detained to deny him the rights and privileges avail to suspects standing trials as provided for in the constitution.
The lawyer disclosed that presently his client does no longer have access to his family, doctor and legal team, describing the sad development as a gross violation of his constitutional rights.
Okojie, whose legal firm; ‘White Clay & Case Lagal Consult’, is handing the case of alleged rape charges against Bishop Urhonigbe in Warri, urged Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, to call his men to order by compiling to Section 8 (1) of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) of Delta state 2017, which guaranteed rights and privileges of his client even while in police custody.
He noted that the law specified that; “A suspect shall be accorded human treatment having regards to his right to the dignity of his person and therefore not to be subjected to any form of torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment”.
According to him; “This continuous denial and torture of my client also contravened Section 34 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 36 (5) (6) (b) and (c) as well as Section 37 of the same 1999 constitution, as amended”.
According to him, “My client, Bishop Elijah Urhonigbe, was arraigned at the Magistrate Court 2 Warri and was subsequently remanded to Warri Custodial Centre, Okere, Warri or ‘A Division Police station, Warri, on the 10th day of June 2020 on the charges of rape and impersonation”.
“Immediately after arraignment, upon the Area Commander’s order (ACP Mukhtar Garba) he was detained at the Ekpan police station against order of the court and with a strict directive that nobody should see or have access to him”.
“He (my client) had been in custody without his drugs, food or access to his legal team or relatives”. He had been sick without access to good medicare or medical officers”.
“That on June 15, 2020, policemen from the Area Commander’s office came to Ekpan police station and whisked him out to ‘A Division Police station, Warri with strict instructions again that nobody should see or visit him”.
“He has been treated like a common criminal despite the fact that he has not been tried or convicted by any competent court of law”.
“I, on behalf of his legal team is urging the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, to wade into this excessive use of authority being didplayed by his men, especially the Warri Area Commander concerning my client continued torture and denial of his constitutional rights in police custody”, he concluded.
However in a swift response to the allegation, the Warri Area Commander, ACP Mukhtar Garba, said their was no iota of truth in the claim of the lawyer, insisting that the police was following every laid down procedures in dealing with the suspect concerning the sensitive nature of the the case.