Home News Lawyers fume over continued detention of teenagers one month after arrest in Anambra

Lawyers fume over continued detention of teenagers one month after arrest in Anambra

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Lawyers fume over continued detention of teenagers one month after arrest in Anambra

Two teenagers, Chinedu Ogboo and Chima Ossai, have continued to languish in the detention facility of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Anambra Police Command, since Feb. 16 without trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ogboo and Ossai are both workers at Dexin Nigeria Limited, a plastic company which manufactures single use food packs on Atani Road, Odoekpe area of Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra.

They were arrested and handed over to the Police on the allegation that they were responsible for the fire incident in a section of the company.

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Since their arrest, they have been detained at Atani Police Division, Okpoko Police Division and currently at the SCID for over a month so far.

Mr Emmanuel Ogboo, father of one the suspects, Chinedu, had raised alarm over the health of his son, describing their continued incarceration without recourse to the rule of law as persecution.

He said all efforts made to secure the bail of the boys, including getting the matter charged and determined in court, had been fruitless as the company representatives had not shown up at the Police on any scheduled date.

He alleged that the company had simply given the Police Command in Anambra the instruction to detain his son and other accused persons to ensure they suffered unjustly.

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Mr Reginald Uzoechi, a Lawyer, said no suspect should be in Police custody for more than 48 hours without being charged to a court of law.

Uzoechi said though being underaged did not immune them from due process of investigation and prosecution, it amounted to gross abuse of their fundamental human rights if their detention was not pursuant to court order after they were charged within 48 hours of arrest.

“The Law requires that when you arrest a suspect, you should charge them to court not later than 48 hours, but if upon being arraigned, the court grants that the Police should detain them, you can do that for as long as the court permits.

“It is illegal and an abuse of human rights to throw people into detention perpetually, more so, when they are teenagers, it will amount to exposing them to real criminals which will leave them mentally bruised,” he said.

Mr Akin Fakorede, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of SCID, Anambra, said he was aware of the matter.

Fakorede said the case against the suspects was a mere allegation as they were seen on camera setting the place on fire.

He said the case file was being prepared by the Directorate of Public Prosecution and the suspects would be charged soon without giving any specific date.

But, Mr Felix Chukwuma, the lawyer representing the teenage detainees, said the Police and the company were frustrating the bail and arraignment of the suspects.

Chukwuma said it had become a case of violation of fundamental human rights of the children and that he was proceeding to court to press for it.

He said the arson they were being accused of was not a capital offense like murder and armed robbery and that the case was a bailable one.

He said the accusation was still within the realm of allegation and only a court of law had the competence to determine if it was true, arguing that it was wrong for the Police to keep the teenagers for more than 24 hours on a matter they had not been proven guilty of.

“Police is not a court of law that should say whether an allegation was true or not, if you have evidence against them, you should charge them to court and you do not need to throw them into the cell for one month to do that.

“The Police said it is the complainant that will decide if they should be granted bail or not but that is not correct, they can be granted bail and called up whenever they are needed in court,” he said.

Mr Bartholomew Okafor, a representative of the company, said he would not comment on the matter as everything lied with the Police which were handling the matter.

“I cannot speak on the matter, everything is in the hands of the Police who are handling it,” he said.

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