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Okuama Massacre:  SANs, retired Judges speak on who should probe killings between Army and Police

Okuama Massacre:  SANs, retired Judges speak on who should probe killings between Army and Police

 

Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, and retired judges, yesterday said the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, ought to handle investigations into the recent murder of 17 soldiers, and an unconfirmed number of villagers at Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

The legal luminaries, who faulted the handing over of the traditional ruler of Ewu Kingdom, Delta State, HRM Clement Ikolo, one of the eight persons declared wanted by the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, Abuja, over the incident, by the Police to the Army, said it is not the constitutional duty of the Army to investigate the murder.

They advised the Army to return the monarch to the Police for proper inquiries into, and prosecution of the the murder cases.

Among those who spoke to Vanguard were former chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono Obla, SAN, Cosmos Enwelizor, SAN, Chief Magistrate E. O. Eferakoro, retd, former Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State, Uwemedimo Nwoko, SAN, a retired President of the Delta State Area Customary Court, Miakpor Emiaso, and Hon. Justice Jonathan.E. Shakarho, retired Judge of the Federal High Court.


Cosmos Enwelizor, SAN, who spoke on the phone in Rivers State, said: “My take is that the Army should allow the Police do the investigation and punish whoever is found culpable in the crime committed.

“Every criminal matter should be handled by the police as enshrined in the constitution. Our constitution does not give power to the Army to declare any Nigerian wanted. The constitution does not also empower the Army to arrest and prosecute anybody. It is not their responsibility. It is only in Nigeria that you see the Army doing everything and this is not good for our constitution.

“The Army should refrain from committing a constitutional breach by declaring citizens wanted for criminal offences. It is only the Police that has the constitutional right to arrest, prosecute, and or declare anybody wanted and not the Army. If there is any crisis anywhere, the Police have the power to wade in and arrest the situation, not the Army.

“If you go to other countries, even in Africa, you can never see a soldier on the streets. The role of the Army is to protect the country’s territorial integrity, not to declare citizens wanted. How can the Army invade a community, Okuama, destroy everything, and then declare a king wanted?

“While I sympathize with the families of those 17 soldiers killed by hoodlums, I want to say that the killers of those soldiers might not necessarily be indigenes of the community.”

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