The recent deferred capture alive by a permutation of our security agencies of a notorious criminal whose specialty was the kidnap of – and subsequent demand for ransom from – wealthy Nigerians gladdened many a heart as the story broke out. Most so because he is believed to have evaded the eagle eyes of our security agencies for close to the half of a decade. Also, it was indeed most pleasing that it differed from such earlier occasions when men in that category are more often than not summarily gunned down prior to or in the process of their arrest. Thus denying the police and other enforcement agencies concerned the beautiful opportunity of making more arrests and getting to the root of their crimes that the interrogation of the culprit would have enabled.
Like has been highlighted by many an enlightened Nigerian in such matters, the onus on the investigating agencies concerned is to see that he is well protected wherever he is being detained. This has to be opined as many times in the past culprits in detention have been laid to waste before they can lay the golden eggs envisaged. A case in point remains the case of the acclaimed founder of the Boko Haram sect who was captured in the flesh only to be killed en route to detention. A happenstance many have blamed for the spiral out of hand of the raging menace that ended up almost bringing the country to its kneesupon a time.
The need to keep captured criminals, therefore, need not be over emphasized in the circumstances. Like pointed out by Mr Femi Falana (SAN) in a release, they need to be around for the law to rope in their accomplices effectively. A process, all are in the know, cannot even carry on at all if they are not there to prove their accusation beyond doubt.
Like the culprits; like the exhibits. Here it must be pointed out that all the recovered arms, cash as well as beautiful mansions and other whatnots advertised to the press and on television amount to nothing but a media trial. These also need to be preserved if the prosecution can hope to make any headway in its apparently easy case. This, because a possible demolition of some of the structures is already been mulled in quarters like has gained ascendancy in the country of late.
Cases in point abound where these demolitions that would have provided the evidences to convict culprits have ended up exonerating them. Standing out here is the case in Onitsha Anambra State where a hotel that alleged housed two human heads ‘traceable’ to the owner turned out an apparent hoax. Held for months with not so much as a charge raised against him, he could not but be discharged unconditionally. And that was after the structure had been pulled down as the then state governor and Commissioner of Police stood in supervision.
Anyway, we cannot proceed any farther on that as the matter is still in court. Suffice it, however, to note that though the country may appear to be rudderless to the naked eye, it is still very much run by statutes that have endured the taste of better times. And by them, no one can be found guilty until proven otherwise by a court – and, by all intents and purposes, one of competent jurisdiction. What this implies in essence is that the culprit even he be caught red handed must be taken to court and allowed a process of fair hearing.
Also, in the abiding principles of modernity, he or she must be allowed to have a lawyer defending him or the state provides one for him. It is in this regard that whosoever arises as an accomplice must also be treated for the avoidance of doubt. The time is gone when it is assumed that the world is not watching us. With the prevalence of umpteen media interfaces with which news is now communicated, whatever goes on in any enclave now is no sooner transmitted to New York before it is aired in Lagos. Thus, we must be seen to be following due process, more so in the trial of criminals.
We cannot but congratulate the Inspector General of Police(IGP), his Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and all who contributed one way or the other in this most recent breakthrough. However, here at The AUTHORITY, we would want him to see it foremost as a mere stepping stone yet. Yes, even as pleased as we are that according to reports his men are already on the trail of the notorious criminal’s accomplices and abettors. The end, by us, cannot be said to have been reached till everything possible is done to see that all the culprits are brought to book without delay, not least the herdsmen who are killing other Nigerians across the country.