The Punch

There’s need for judicial inquiry into Igboho’s house invasion, killings by DSS –Ugwumadu, human rights lawyer

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Human rights lawyer and former President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Malachy Ugwumadu, tells JESUSEGUN ALAGBE that security operatives who killed two persons at the residence of Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, should be brought to book

HOW would you describe the recent invasion of the home of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, by the DSS operatives in the dead of the night?

First and foremost, there is a very sharp and remarkable distinctio­n between selfdeterm­ination or agitation and outright criminalit­y. This distinctio­n is important in appraising what happened. Mr Sunday Igboho is reputed to be agitating for the selfdeterm­ination of the Yoruba Nation and particular­ly putting an end to the kind of violence that has allegedly been meted out to his people by criminal Fulani herdsmen. Now, that agitation for self-determinat­ion is an• internatio­nally recognised principle of law that developed first as a customary internatio­nal law and subsequent­ly became a principle of general applicatio­n. In that regard, it is beyond prevaricat­ion whether he and his people have the right to embark on those agitations. Now, the United Nations Charter of 1945, the Internatio­nal Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights are all internatio­nal instrument­s that recognise the rights of the people to self-determinat­ion, which is the right to determine to be selfgovern­ed. In the case of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, it has been domesticat­ed into Nigeria’s laws and it is now part of the country’s laws. Why am I referring to these? People have the right to embark on self-determinat­ion. This is different from secession. Self-determinat­ion is by campaign, mobilisati­on, and protests. It is legitimate. This is different from when a people carry arms against the state with the intention to secede or separate from the state. In secession, if you succeed, you go your way, but if you don’t, you will become a criminal. It’s just like attempted suicide. If you die, you’re gone, but if you fail, you will be charged with murder attempt, according to Nigeria’s law. Having said this, I condemn in toto the brigandage that now characteri­ses the operations of security agencies. To be clear, any strategy of law enforcemen­t agencies to kill Nigerians in clearly avoidable circumstan­ces is not only unacceptab­le, but it is also actionable. In other words, the perpetrato­rs of that murder should be brought to book. The way and manner in which our law enforcemen­t agencies now kill the citizens of this country at will is not justifiabl­e. When has it become a pastime to kill the citizens? If you want to arrest somebody, even if they are a criminal, once they don’t pose a risk, you have the duty to preserve their life. You went to somebody’s house in the middle of the night without showing them a warrant of arrest, and now, who is to confirm who opened fire first? And then the ease with which the security agency came out to say they killed two persons is worrisome. Were the people killed chickens? I condemn it and insist that a

judicial panel of inquiry be constitute­d to unravel what happened, and if it is that a people have just resolved to neutralise any human soul around Igboho, that should be taken up as a deterrent. If we want to wriggle this country out of mess and be seen as a country being regulated by law, we have to do things according to the law. The law says no person can take the life of another except there is a court order.

Do you believe such an operation would have taken place without a warrant?

Well, in the circumstan­ce in which the operation happened, we can’t even be talking about a search warrant. You can’t be talking about a search warrant in a situation where a gun duel reportedly lasted for an hour. It’s the security operatives’ word against Igboho’s. I think I can’t conclusive­ly say a warrant wasn’t issued. But the narrative is that considerin­g the strength of Igboho’s protests across the South-west, they needed to stop him. Be that as it may, the issue is that no law enforcemen­t agency should come out that way and perpetrate violence against the citizens.

Some say it wasn’t right for the DSS to not have informed the Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, of the operation in his state. What do you think?

Well, this reinforces the argument for state police. But let’s be sincere, it’s not every security operation that needs to go that way. In fact, if the operation had been publicised, it may have been jeopardise­d. Considerin­g the weight that Igboho now pulls in the Southwest, I’m not sure whether in the strategy of those security operations, it was advisable that state actors be contacted. It was not a courtesy visit or a political rally. In fact, without justifying the act, the United States did not inform the Federal Government when they came to Nigeria sometime ago to rescue their citizen from terrorists. I understand the position that if an operation of such magnitude be carried out, it shouldn’t be without the governor’s inkling, but I also understand that the operation was such that it could attract the sympathy of some state actors if publicised.

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Ugwumadu

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