By Dele Adesina SAN
Mr Omo Osobase Iyioha, a Legal Practitioner based in Benin, Edo State was reportedly abducted on the 9th of May, 2020. A spirited search for the Lawyer only produced his dead body, having been murdered and buried in a shallow grave in an uncompleted building.
One of the suspects already in the Police net reportedly confessed to the dastardly act and was said to have actually led the Nigerian Police Investigation Team to the site of the shallow grave of Barr. Omo Osobase Iyioha.
Similarly, Miss Uwaila Omozuwa, a young, ambitious, and determined lady was reportedly murdered on Wednesday, the 27th of May 2020, by a gang of boys who were said to have gang-raped her before her premeditated and callous murder. Uwa was until her untimely death a 100 level Microbiology student at the University of Benin. She was not murdered on the street, neither was she gang-raped at a club. Rather, she was raped and murdered right inside a church which even in a war situation is ordinarily a sanctuary and a safe haven.
The suspects of these multiple murders have been arrested by the Nigerian Police and are in Police custody. In the case of Uwa, the Investigation Team was able to arrest the suspect through the help of forensic examination with the screening of the fingerprints on the fire extinguisher allegedly used to smash the head of Uwa.
This is commendable on the part of the men and officers of the Nigerian Police in Edo State. Also commendable is the fact that Uwa’s gruesome murder has attracted the personal attention of the President of this country, President Muhammadu Bihari, and that of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A comprehensive investigation must not only lead to the arrest of other _particeps criminis_ of these crimes but more importantly, must lead to the formulation of creative strategy on how to prevent similar crimes in the future. A study of some National Dailies reveals several high degree crimes of this nature on a daily basis.
The time has come for the Nigerian Police to step up their acts at crime prevention and detection. In the very words of Section 4 of the Police Act, the primary responsibility of the Police is “the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property, and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations”.
An efficient and functional system of crime prevention in this country will minimise these kinds of dastardly acts. Barr. Omo Osobase Iyioha, a very dutiful Professional making his own contribution to the act of nation-building and Uwa, an innocent Lady that the family has sent to the University to study at the pain of personal sacrifice to the family to give her a better tomorrow would probably not have suffered untimely deaths if the authorities had been able to prevent the criminal act from happening.
Let me seize this opportunity to make the point over and over again that the monolithic and centralised Police structure that we have in this country is no longer in a position to effectively and maximally maintain law and order or protect lives and properties.
A monolithic and centralised Police structure such as we have notwithstanding our large and expansive land area, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, highly diverse, and huge population can never be the best for an effective and efficient policing. If we want an efficient and effective Police system in this country, we must decentralise and have a Police system at every level of this federation. In other words, the case for State Police is again being emphasised in the interest of our nation.
Nothing buttresses this submission than the rate of crime and criminal activities through-out the country and the creative and necessity-borne ideas at combating these acts of criminality and insecurities through the formation of one Operation or the other to complement the work of the Nigerian Police. Such creative efforts of government like Operation Delta Safe to protect critical national assets and to provide security in the Niger Delta; Operation Python Dance in the South-East to check kidnapping and other criminal activities; Operation Boyona set up to restore law and order in the North-East; Operation Crocodile Smile in the South-South to deal with criminal elements engaged in the vandalism of oil pipelines and installations; and, Operation Crocodile Smile IV to protect land, water channels and the creeks in the South-West to mention but a few are eloquent testimonies that the Police structure as presently constituted is unable to meet up with the enormous security and safety challenges of the Nation.
It would be recalled that all these Operations are constituted by the military in conjunction with the Nigerian Police and other sister agencies.
Let me also stress that the time to pay enhanced attention to enforcing our law is now. The apprehension of offenders and appropriate sanction and punishment, when found guilty, is in itself a formidable deterrent to criminal actions. When law is not effectively enforced and when institutions of the state are weak, impunity reigns supreme, and lawlessness of various degrees take over.
The Nigerian Police must undertake a comprehensive investigation of these multiple murders with a view to bringing all the suspects to justice. The souls of the deceased and their families deserve nothing less. May the Almighty strengthen the grieving families and bless the souls of UWA and IYIOHA.
Dele Adesina SAN, a former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), is the Presidential Candidate for the NBA Presidency, 2020