From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
A civil rights lawyer and activist, Dr Kayode Ajulo, has faulted the arrest of the three members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) who were involved in the arrest of a ‘kidnap kingpin’ allegedly terrorising the Ibarapa area of Oyo State, Iskilu Wakilu, by the men of the Nigerian Police Force.
The constitutional lawyer in a statement made available to Daily Sun in Akure, the Ondo State capital, made the case for the immediate and unconditional release of the three OPC members.
Ajulo, who quoted section 12 of the Criminal Procedure Act, Section 28(d) of Criminal Procedure Code as well as the Supreme Court Judgment in the case of Nweke Versus The State (1965) 1 ALL NLR 114, said the trio have committed no crime.
He said a certain section of Nigerian criminal laws permits citizens’ arrest of a suspected criminal even without a warrant.
‘Like any other law enforcement agents or officers, an ordinary Nigerian can arrest any person reasonably suspected of having committed a felony, a crime punishable with three years imprisonment or more,’ Ajulo said.
‘In such circumstances, you don’t need a police officer to arrest such a suspect and if in arresting such a person, you threaten or assault such person, you will not be liable. And after an arrest, you are to handover such person to a police officer or the nearest police station.’
Describing the arrest as an unfortunate development, the rights activist demanded the release of the arrested OPC men, noting that the activities of Iskilu Wakilu in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State were rife and men of the Nigerian Police Force were expected to have confronted it but nothing seemed to be forthcoming.
He said it was regrettable that the police would later turn against the OPC operatives who made the job of the police easier by turning in the alleged kidnap kingpin.
He said the police ought to have recognised the fact that the arrested men of the OPC were not acting in isolation but as registered members of an age long sectional group saddled with the utmost responsibility of defending the integrity of Yorubaland, that ‘by a matter of exigency are backed by sons and daughters of Yorubaland to ensure that pockets of insecurity being witnessed in the South-West doesn’t degenerate further.’
The former National Secretary of the Labour Party said that the OPC men had acted as law-abiding citizens to have apprehended Wakilu and handed him over to the police, rather than being unlawfully killed.
He described the arrest by the police as inappropriate, and one that sends wrong signals to the populace.
The lawyer who is also the Mayegun Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land stated that the Yoruba tribe has been in the vanguard of justice, equality and equity in Nigeria and will not shy away from demanding justice irrespective of the persons, tribes and nations involved.
‘From time immemorial and at the inception of Nigeria Statehood, the Yorubas have continued to promote fair justice and have also been the foremost advocate of true freedom. The late Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the defunct Northern Nigeria Region, Sir. Ahmadu Bello was unrelentingly defended in and outside of the court by Late Chief Bode Thomas from Oyo State, and fought to seek justice for the Fulani Prince during a tensed trial time,’ Ajulo declared.
‘Chief GOK Ajayi and other Yoruba progressive patriots also fought for justice for Alhaji Abdulrahman Shugaba, a Kanuri from the North-East region, when he was deported by the Nigerian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Ajulo said ‘from Zango-Kataf to Jalingo, Bauchi, East and West, Yoruba patriots have been defending people’s rights and freedom irrespective of religion, tribe and ethnicity, saying Yorubas will not shy away from seeking justice for people’s right once it’s perceived to have been trampled upon” Zamani Lekwot, El-Zazaky, etc, are leaving testimonials of Yorubas quest for justice and freedom.
‘It is on this backdrop I unequivocally demand the immediate release of the three members of the OPC Citizen Adedigba Awodele, Citizen Hassan Ramoni and Citizen Dauda Kazeem presently detained at Iyaganku Police Command Ibadan, for the apprehension of the kidnap kingpin Iskilu Wakilu,’ Ajulo concluded.