On at least two occasions, we have had cause to advise the Attorney-General (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to arraign the soldiers and policemen who are the alleged accomplices of the Taraba State’s kidnap kingpin, Bala Usman, alias Wadume, before the court, to quell the ringing calls of favouritism.
We went as far as asking the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, to wade in, to ensure that those indicted in the alleged killing of three policemen in order to release Wadume from the police custody, face trial.
So far, our advice has been ignored to the detriment of the criminal justice system and avoidable embarrassment of the Federal Government.
We maintain that it is untoward and discriminatory that while Wadume and his civilian accomplices are facing trial, the soldiers, allegedly led by Captain Tijjani Balarabe, to forcefully release Wadume, and in the process killed Inspector Mark Ediale and his two other colleagues, have not been put on trial.
Last week, the family of the late Inspector threatened to sue the Federal Government, for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the deceased.
According to their lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN: “we will institute a fundamental rights enforcement suit at the Taraba State High Court. We are only tidying up our papers with the family.
The papers will be ready and we will file them before the end of the week.” There is the likelihood that the relations of the other slain police officers may follow the same path to seek redress, in the civil court, for the alleged unlawful killing of their beloved ones.
Before threatening to go to court against the Federal Government, Falana had written to the AGF, demanding that the Captain and his colleagues be charged to court for trial.
That demand by the counsel to the bereaved family was ignored by the AGF. Perhaps, because of the AGF’s refusal to bring the men to trial, the Nigerian tax payers will be exposed to avoidable costs, to defend the threatened suit.
For us, the continued refusal by the federal authorities to arraign Captain Balarabe, and the other implicated soldiers and policemen, is unjustifiable.
Clearly the families of the slain policemen and the civil society are left wondering whether there are different laws for different folks, in our country, as in George Orwell’s parody of a discriminatory society: The Animal Farm.
Since the government has failed in its duty to give equal treatment to all those indicted, for reasons best known to it, the aggrieved have chosen to vent their anguish before a civil court, under the watchful eyes of the civil society.
We welcome the bereaved family’s decision to institute legal action against those stalling the arraignment of the suspects.
We hope the recalcitrant behaviour of the federal authorities by refusing to charge the indicted persons to court will not warrant claims of exemplary damages by the claimants.
If that be the case, would it not be proper that those whose behaviour has exposed the federal treasury to such claims be made to answer for their misdemeanour?
Apart from the monetary claims, how can the federal authorities reassure the colleagues of the slain policemen that they did not die in vain, if those allegedly responsible for their untimely death are not made to face the law of the land?
When we argue for equal treatment for every citizen, irrespective of the present standing in the society, we do so to encourage the necessary patriotic instinct the country sorely needs to coalesce into a nation.
Those who have refused to allow the due process of law in the case involving Wadume and Captain Balarabe should be aware of the grave consequences of their actions.