Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned what it said was a media trial and police parade of Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu, the 300 level student of the department of mass communication at the University of Lagos on the alleged murder of Super TV chief executive officer, Michael Usifo Ataga.
LEDAP said in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, Section 36 sub-section (1) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to fair hearing and the presumption of innocence.
According to them, the core sense of the fundamental right to fair hearing is to ensure that in determination of civil rights and obligations, the process and administration of criminal justice is conducted in such a way as to guarantee independence and impartiality.
“Hence, the recent police parade of Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu by the Nigeria Police Force clearly violates her fundamental right to fair hearing as provided under the Nigerian Constitution. This worrisome act by the Nigeria Police Force has led to the ongoing media trial of Ojukwu, which clearly violates her fundamental right principle of presumption of innocence as provided in Section 36(5), which states thus; “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.”
“In addition, Section 35 (2) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any other person of his own choice”
“It is unlawful that the Nigeria Police Force (State CID, Panti) has denied Ojukwu access to a legal representative and has compelled her to make statements in the presence of journalists and other media agencies,” it claimed in a statement signed by its national coordinator, Chino Obiagwu (SAN).
Furthermore, the group explained that the Courts have in several decisions condemned such a public parade of criminal suspects as an illegal practice.
“For example, in Ndukwem Chiziri Nice v AG, Federation & Anor (2007) CHR218 at 232, Justice Banjoko of FCT High Court held that “The act of parading a suspect before the press as evidenced by the Exhibits annexed to the affidavit was uncalled for and a callous disregard for his person,” it cited.