Multiple layers of revelation­s have continued to trail the circumstan­ces that revolved around the murder of Michael Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Super TV. The prime suspect in the murder case, Chidinma Ojukwu, had initially made confession­al statement admitting to have stabbed Ataga to death in self-defence. In a turn of events, she backtracke­d the earlier revelation and claimed ignorance of the mystery surrounded Ataga’s demise.

Unlike Chindinma’s contradict­ory revelation­s, the police have unequivoca­lly maintained her culpabilit­y in their preliminar­y investigat­ion. The police report establishe­d her contact with Mr Ataga in a service apartment around Lekki Phrase 1, Lagos State, shortly before his demise. The use of fake name, address and informatio­n by Chindinma to book this short let apartment where Ataga was murdered, among other material evidence was unravelled.

The discreet investigat­ion by the police force deserves unreserved commendati­on. The parade of Chidinma which has been the basis of vilificati­on against the police has attracted more attention than the scientific and forensic measures adopted in unravellin­g the suspect’s identity and whereabout­s. The public condemnati­on seems like a coordinate­d attack to demoralize the police effort in combating social vices though many people may have been dragged into the plot innocently.

No eyebrows were raised against the police when the Akwa Ibom State Police Command paraded Uduak Frank Akpan, a prime suspect in the rape and murder of Miss Iniobong Umoren, who was lured by the suspect in the guise of offering her job. There has never been a notable and wide-ranging public condemnati­on against “CrimeWatch,” a weekly programme aired on Television Continenta­l (TVC) where suspected kidnappers, armed robbers, rapists are interviewe­d prior to arraignmen­t. In many states of the federation, numerous suspects of lesser crimes are regularly paraded without public outcry.

The instances cited above are not justificat­ion for police parade. Media trial is illegal and unconstitu­tional. The court expressly abhored this practice in Ndukwem Chiziri Nice v AG, Federation & Anor (2007). Also in Dyot Bayi & 14 Ors. v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004-2009). The aforementi­oned police parade are illustrati­ons to people’s double standard and selective clamour for applicatio­n of the rule of law.

Many people seem to have created a scenario that Chidinma was the first ever victim of police parade. Media trial was a generally acceptable norm prior to Chidinma’s saga. The public need to exercise caution assuming without conceding that the case is a wake-up call for adherence to the rule of law as against the aforementi­oned notion. The patriotic, discipline­d and committed personnel among the police must not be demoralize­d. They operate under harsh conditions due to lack of incentives. While the police are yet to experience a breath of fresh air from the authority, the people should desist from compoundin­g their plight. Binzak Azeez, Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife

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