BY PRECIOUS IGBONWELUNDU AND JOSEPH JIBUEZEJUL
The woman accused of aiding suspected kidnap king accused of George Onwuamadike (alias Evans) to escape justice in 2006 is still in the police, The Nation learned yesterday.
It was gathered that the woman, simply identified as Tina, is now a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP). She was unmasked by a Special Investigation Panel (SIP) constituted by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris to probe Evans’ 2006 arrest, a transfer from Lagos State to Imo State and eventual release.
After the suspect’s arrest last month, a senior police officer told reporters that his team apprehended Evans in 2006 after a bank robbery.
The officer had claimed that Evans and his gang members had a gun duel at the National Theatre in Surulere, Lagos Mainland after a disagreement in sharing their loot, adding that the kingpin was shot and left to die.
According to the officer, Tina, who was a Superintendent of Police (SP) at the time, mounted pressure on them to release Evans and two of his members but when her request was not met, she went through Imo State Command, where a signal was sent for the transfer of the suspects.
As a result of the revelations, IGP Idris constituted a panel to investigate the 2006 arrest, transfer and eventual release of Evans and his members.
The panel was to identify all officers who had a hand in the matter, whether serving or retired.
According to a source, the panel has made “reasonable progress” in its investigation because almost all the officers that took part in the “rape of justice” have been identified.
He said the police might soon release a statement on the issue.
The source said: “I can tell you that Tina is not the woman’s real name but I won’t give you her name. I can also tell you she’s now a CSP and still in service. So many officers took part in that 2006/2007 release of Evans and they are being investigated. The panel has made progress and almost all of them have been identified. An official statement might be release by the authorities soon.”
The fundamental rights suit filed by Evans has been assigned to Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in Lagos for adjudication.
The case, a source said, has been returned to the registry for temporary assignment to another judge who will sit during the court’s long vacation.
The vacation judge handles only urgent motions and cases bordering on human rights violations before they are re-assigned permanently to other judges.
The source said: “The case was assigned to Justice Kuewumi. But due to its nature, the judge felt it would be better handled by a vacation judge.
“He felt it would not be ideal to adjourn it for hearing until after the long vacation in September.
“So, it was the judge who gave parties the July 13 date to appear before the vacation judge after studying the file.”
The court will begin its nine-week annual vacation on Monday. It will resume on September 8.
A statement by Chief Registrar Emmanuel Gakko reads: “The Federal High Court of Nigeria hereby wishes to notify the general public, lawyers and litigants that the court’s annual vacation for the year 2017 shall commence from Monday, 10th July 2017 and would end onFriday, 8th September 2017.
“The court would therefore resume on Monday, the 11th day of September 2017.”
Two judges – Justice Abdulazeez Anka and Justice Chuka Obiozor – will take turns to sit during the vacation in the Lagos division.
It was not immediately clear who will sit first during the vacation.
Evans sued the Inspector-General of Police for alleged violation of his fundamental rights.
He is praying the court to compel the police to charge him rather than detaining him indefinitely since June 10.
Evans is also demanding N300million damages and an apology for the alleged violation of his rights.
In the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed on his behalf by a Lagos lawyer, OlukoyaOgungbeje, the suspected kidnapper said his continued detention without trial was illegal.
The police, Lagos Commissioner of Police, Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the Lagos State Police Command are the other respondents.
Alternatively, Evans is seeking an order compelling the respondents to immediately release him unconditionally.
Evans argued that the respondents ought to have charged him to court in line with Sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution.
In a 27-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Evan’s father, Stephen Onwuamadike, it was averred that the applicant had been subjected to media trial without any court’s order.
The father said since his son’s arrest, all his family members has been denied access to him while reporters were granted unfettered access to him.
An Assistant Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, said Evans’ detention was to allow for thorough investigation.
“All those who want Evans released did not know that the police had obtained a 90-day warrant to detain him,” said Kyari, who led a special squad that smashed Evans’ gang.
Evans had also reportedly denied instructing any lawyer to file a suit on his behalf.
“I have no hand in any case filed against the police and I did not speak with any lawyer or my father to file a case on my behalf,” he was quoted as saying in a television interview.
Ogungbeje, however, told our correspondent that he was instructed by Evans’ family to file the action.
The lawyer said Evans’ father was personally in court to depose to an affidavit in support of the case.