Section 38 of the Police Act of 2020 grants the police permission to apprehend individuals under specific conditions.
The Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, Worldwide, has urged the Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS, and the Inspector General of Police to conduct an inquiry and take action against the officers responsible for the apprehension and imprisonment of Mr Collins Opumie, a young activist, for a period exceeding two years without facing trial.
What happened: In a statement made available to newsmen on Monday, March 13, 2023, the national spokesman of the Ijaw Youths Council, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, explained that Opumie was reportedly seized in a forceful manner from his location in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State.
Why Opumie was arrested: Following the shortlisting of his firm as one of the top three bidders for a contract to provide three million litres of diesel per month to the Nigeria Agip Oil Company in 2016, Opumie was taken to subterranean facilities where he was imprisoned without trial.
Statement read in part: “He was falsely accused of planning to attack oil pipelines and Agip facilities in Southern Ijaw, and thereafter taken to the Yenagoa cemetery with threats to kill him and bury him in an unidentified grave if he fails to agree to their claim that he sent the company a text threatening to carry out the act,” he stated.
Other details in the statement summarised: Ekerefe claimed that during Opumie’s abduction, he was covered with a mask and forcibly placed in the trunk of a vehicle. During the journey to Abuja, he was deprived of food and water and suffered from bleeding in his nose, mouth, and ears.
Additionally, he was allegedly subjected to torture and maltreatment by the DSS personnel and confined to their subterranean detention center, commonly referred to as the “Hot Room,” for a duration of 730 days.
Next steps for IYC: While vowing to petition the Nigeria Agip Oil Company to its headquarters in Italy over the incident, the IYC spokesman urged the Director-General of the DSS and the Inspector General of Police to discipline officers involved.
What the law says about police detention: As per Section 35 of the Nigerian Constitution (1999) and Articles 3 of the African Charter on Human Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (2004), the police lack the authority to detain individuals except in circumstances authorised by the law.
Nevertheless, Section 38 of the Police Act of 2020 grants the police permission to apprehend individuals under specific conditions. It’s worth noting that an arrest marks the inception of detention.
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