Sometime last month, I was contacted by a woman from Onitsha, who informed me that her husband has been in police custody at the state police headquarters for over two months. When I inquired to know why, she told me that her husband runs a security outfit and that her husband provides security for a particular hotel in Asaba. She said what happened was that during the lockdown, the said hotel did not close down contrary to government directives as a result, police invaded the hotel, and the manager ran away, so they arrested the security man who is a staff of her husband.
Upon her husband being notified of the arrest of his staff, he mobilized himself to the police station in company of two other staff. On getting to the police station in an attempt to secure the bail of his arrested staff, him and the two other staff that went for the bail were arrested and detained. Upon inquiry as to the reason for his arrest and detention, the police told him that the reason he was arrested is because his company provided security for the hotel and that until the owner of the hotel is apprehended, himself and his three staff will not be released.
The wife and relatives has done everything possible to persuade the police to release them to no avail.
As at the time the woman contacted me, she told me that the police has finally agreed to release them upon the condition that the family provides the sum of one million naira for bail. She told me that they have been pleading with the police to collect 250k for the bail but they refused and insisted that it must be 700k last.
The woman had contacted me to intervene so that the police can reduce the money to 300 or 400k. Guess my response, I told her bluntly that I will not do it. I don’t negotiate money for police to “eat”
Though she was disappointed, but I made her understand that in my profession as lawyer and revolutionists, it is against my ideology and principle to negotiate bail money for the police. Those who must make heaven must live a righteous life. You cannot attain righteousness through unrighteous means.
I told her that in my practice as I was schooled and brought up, all I need to do is to apply to court to order the police to release them.
She was not convinced, so I left her.
The truth is that many innocent Nigerians are victims of this kind of treatment from the police and they end up doing the bidding of the police for fear of the unknown.
Generally, the law is that a person arrested by the police ought to be granted bail, where the offence is boilable or charged to a court of competent jurisdiction within a reasonable time and the interpretation of a reasonable time by our constitution is a maximum of 48 hours.
In contravention of the law, police in Nigeria is in the habit of detaining suspects ad infinitum until they are able to extract reasonable amount of money from them. The truth is that this trend of illicit collection of money for bail, even where it is conspicuously written that bail is free, will not end soon in Nigeria. This is because Nigerians are either afraid or unwilling to fight for their rights. A Nigerian will prefer to give money to the police rather than sleep at the station for one night to enforce his fundamental right. As long as we continue to acquiesce with the police, this trend of “ANYHOWNESS” will not cease.
Nigerians must stop paying police for bail
Join the struggle now.
I remain C. C. Uwakina Esq.
To Be Continued.