Growing Cases Of Extra-Judicial Killings In Cross River And Implication On Tourism BY JAMES IBOR

In Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics

by crossriverwatch admin

Barrister James Ibor
Barrister James Ibor

Cross River State according to the National Population Commission, has a population of about 2,892,988.

Cross River State is today one of the hotspot of Nigerian tourism industry. For instance, the Cross River National Park has the largest area of protected tropical rain forest in Nigeria.

In the Park you will find rare species of antelopes, chimpanzees, monkeys, manatees, gorillas, baboons, leopards, elephants, etc. The first Free Trade Zone in Nigeria; the famous Obudu Cattle Ranch, Tinapa business and leisure resort, Marina resort, Agbokim and Kwa waterfalls, are all located in Cross River State.

Cross River State owes its legal existence to the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). In line with the said constitution, she has:
1. An Executive Arm of Government headed by an elected Governor;
2. A legislative Arm of Government whose members are elected from the different constituencies created by the constitution and is led by a Speaker elected by members of the state legislature ;
3. The Judicial Arm is made up of Judges, Magistrates and order Judicial Officers. It is headed by a State Chief Judge.
The Cross River State legal system is constituted by the following:
a) The Nigerian Constitution;
b) Other Laws of the Federation of Nigeria;
c) Legislations of the State House of Assembly;
d) Recognized native laws and customs of the people of Cross River State;
e) Judicial precedents of Courts with Judicial authority over Cross River State;
f) Local government bye-laws.

The effective deployment of these formal structures of governance will undoubtedly impact positively on the future of Cross River State tourism Industry.

Like many other places in Nigeria, extra judicial killings, is gradually eroding the virtue of our humanity and civilization, and a re-enactment of the Stone Age.

Daily, we receive chilling stories of extra judicial killings in Nigeria. I do not intend to remind you of the mind boggling stories of murder that were perpetrated by criminal gangs that sprang-up every now and then, like the Bakassi boys, Niger Delta militants, Egong youths and now Boko Haram.

I need not also remind you of mob action murders, like the ALUU 4 in Port Harcourt. I am more saddened by the extra-judicial killings carried out by state actors with state resources (tax payers’ money) against armless and defenseless people. Many of these murders are not reported and their victims may never get justice.

In 1999 and 2001, hundreds of women and children were massacred in Odi Bayelsa State and Zaki-Ibiam in Benue State, by soldiers. In the early 1980s, one Dele Udoh and the Dawodu brothers, were murdered by policemen on separate occasions and locations.

The story of Corporal Rabiu Bello who shot and killed Halisu Salam Agaba reported in the news magazine of 30/4/2001, the murder of Bayo Awosika(a young banker) by policemen in 2008, Mr. Sodifo and Yusuf Omole Oladipo murdered by Sgt. Olowojoyin in September 2009, are instances of extra judicial killings worth mentioning.

Recently, CrossRiverWatch, an online newspaper reported the murder of Mr. Derek Ben Maurice an undergraduate student of accounting in the University of Calabar.

According to eye-witnesses, Derek Maurice Ben and 5 others were removed from the cell they were detained in, by one Sgt. Anthony Idoko (an acquaintance of Derek Ben Maurice’s family) at about 2am, and shot. The Police later came up with a story that, Derek and his friends were armed robbers who were killed by the police in a gun duel.

In the course of writing this piece, I have visited the anatomy department of the University of Calabar, following information that they buy the remains of victims of police extra-judicial killings.

I was startled to see over one hundred bodies, many of which I was informed, were deposited by police officers from the Cross River State Police command.

None of these executions were sanctioned by a Court. The story usually is that they are “armed robbers” killed after a “fierce gun-battle”.

An extra-judicial killing is against the twin principles of natural justice, Audi alterem partem and Nemo judex in causasua, which are respectively interpreted to mean- “let the other party be heard” & “no man shall be a judge in his own case”.

These principles are clearly captured in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended). In the case of IBIKUME v. STATE (2007) ALL FWLR (PT 354) 209@239, Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen JSC, had this to say
‘’….in the instant case even if the deceased were to be a thief or a person of dubious character which the evidence on record does not disclose him as one, the provisions of the 1999 constitution,…… and section 7 (1)&(2) of the Criminal procedure law of Delta State does not license the appellant to be the complainant, investigator, Judge, as well as executioner all rolled into one”. See also the case of IREK v STATE (1976)4 SC. 65; INAKERU V STATE (1984)9 SC. 17.

From the foregoing, I urge the Cross River State government, to jealously guard her growing tourism business by promoting the rule of law and safe guard the lives and property of residents and visitors to the state. I also wish to call for an inquest into the hundreds of bodies in the anatomy department of the University of Calabar.

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