ABUJA – Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, on Thursday, berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, describing the arrest of Chairman of Innoson Group of Companies, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, as “a reckless display of power”.
According to Daudu who is the Co-ordinator of the Rule of Law Foundation, “The state must not be seen to operate in a manner where individuals are forced to the point of defending themselves in the face of percieved oppression hence leading to a point of anarchy”.
Speaking at an end of year press conference the Foundation held in Abuja, the ex-NBA boss said: “It is no longer news that in the present administration, the investigation and prosecution powers of the state have been reduced to a state of mockery where individual fights are settled in a manner where the hand which controls the agencies of the state uses such agency or body to harass his perceived political enemy.
“The professionalism expected of the enforcement agents have been denigrated and ridiculed by persons who though purport to be civil servants are political attack dogs in reality. “It is more worrisome the fact that the affected agencies such as the EFCC and the DSS have no understanding of their powers and terms of engagement.
Just as a few days ago, the media was awash with news of arrest and detention of the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Nigeria Limited, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma by the EFCC in a Gestapo styled operation where both Dr. Chukwuma and his family members were allegedly assaulted by EFCC operatives.
“While the issues leading to Dr. Chukwuma’s arrest remain unresolved, there seems to be no reasonable justification for the actions of the EFCC. “While certain reports suggest that the EFCC acted on a complaint against Dr. Chukwuma by Guarantee Trust Bank over a financial transaction, other reports suggest that the EFCC claims that Dr. Chukwuma was arrested for certain waivers made in favour of his companies which it considers fraudulent.
“It is however interesting to note, that none of the above excuses should warrant a criminal investigation especially one commenced in the way and manner undertaken by the EFCC without notice or prior invitation.
“The use of maximum force to arrest individial for non-violent offences is a reckless display of power which should be condemned and put a stop to without further ado. “There is no difference between a reckless sate and a common criminal gang where the statr unleashes force on defenceless individuals.
“Law enforcement agents who engage in any reckless display of power must be investigated and dismissed in the least. The primary duty of law enforcement agencies is to protect individuals against oppression.
“However, the opposite seems to be the case in Nigeria where law enforcement agencies are the primary proponent of oppression against the citizens.
There is a need for the regulatory agencies to pay closer attention to the training welfare and discipline of law enforcement agents to ensure that the nation is not shooting itself in the foot by engaging persons with questionable character in law enforcement.
“It is contrary to the social contract between the people and the state that a state which cannot protect its people with maximum force will oppress such people with excessive force. “The state must understand that any application of unnecessary force on individuals is equal to oppression and nature abhors oppression.
“Indeed, where there is a breach of our criminal laws, the state must act to enforce the necessary correctional consequences. However, in so doing, tge sanity of the society must be preserved and protected.
“The relevant authorities must therefore draw a line between power and duty and also ensure that every intending officer undertakes a comprehensive training on ethics. “Also, law enforcement agents must engage in a continous professional training ti sustain their understanding of their rules of engagement”, he added.