The House of Representatives, during a sitting on Tuesday, 13 July, 2021, urged the Nigerian Police to stop the ongoing media trial of Ms. Chidinma Ojukwu, the prime suspect in the murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga.
This was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Oluyole Federal Constituency Representative, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe at plenary.
The lawmaker who also Chairs the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, raised concerns over the unending parade and media trial of the suspect by the Nigerian Police, she said, “This motion is not about Chidinma, her ethnicity, gender or her background, it’s is about doing things right and following due process of the law, it is about the broader issues of police violation of Human rights.”
She stated that if Ms. Ojukwu continues to be paraded about for a social media trial, it could affect the determination and outcome of the case, as well as amount to a breach of her fundamental right to a fair hearing, especially where she is labeled or treated as one guilty of a crime.
Her motion read in part, “Cognizant that Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty. Thus, so long as Ms. Ojukwu has not been proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, she is not to be labeled a criminal or paraded about to conduct series of interviews on a case currently under investigation. Rather, the police are to conduct a proper investigation and allow the court to consider the matter and make an informed judgment”.
She said the police should rather conclude its investigation in her matter and charge her to court for trial rather than the ongoing media trial the suspect is being made to go through.
Akande-Sadipe, therefore, called on the Inspector-General of Police to call all police personnel to order and ensure that there is no repeat of violation of Human rights and media access to arrested persons in the future, to avoid compromising the case in a court of law.
“Also, ensure that Ms. Ojukwu (the accused) does not die in custody or commit suicide while awaiting trial as in some past cases”, she added.
Chidinma, a 300 Level student of the University of Lagos, Akoka, was first paraded by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, on June 24, 2021, at the Police Command in connection with the murder of Ataga, has not been charged to court.