PROFESSOR CHUKS EMMANUEL EZEDUM: LAWYERS FAULT NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OVER INVITATION
Eminent human rights Lawyers across Nigeria have faulted the invitation extended to Professor Chuks Emmanuel Ezedum, Vice-Chancellor Madonna University, Nigeria by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Abuja over alleged torture of two students of his University described as suspected cultists.
The NHRC Executive Secretary, Professor Bem Angwe, had on Monday , August 10, 2015 over the AIT and Channels televisions invited Professor Ezedum to his commission in connection with the allegation. The invitation, though extended through an informal channel (television) was honored by the Vice-Chancellor through a letter hecaused to be delivered to the commission on Monday, August 10, 2015. In the letter the Vice-Chancellor called the Executive Secretary's attention to the fact that the matter was sub judice since the complainats were already before three
different courts seeking to enforce their rights among other things. This did not go down well with the Executive Secretary who insisted that the Vice-Chancellor must appear in person before him or risk prosecution.
Reacting to the order which was reported by many online and Daily Newspapers, a reknowned human rights Lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo, faulted the invitation which according to him if allowed to stand would amount to double jeopardy and a mockery of our judicial system for the Commission and the Courts to be conducting inquiries into the same subject matter between the same parties at the same time. Mr Keyamo counselled Professor Angwe to suspend further inquiry into the subject matter pending the determination of the suit which was instituted by the same complainants whom he was seeking to assist. Mr Keyamo concluded by reminding the Executive Secretary that "by section 5(r) of the NHRC Act, 1995 (as ammended) the power of the Commission to intervene in cases pending in Court has been limited to cases which leave of court for that purpose has been sought and obtained by the Commission". Mr Keyamo also went further to enlighten the Executive Secretary on the truth of the matter which was that the complainants who were to be prosecuted for secret cultism on campus were seeking to hide under the protection of the Commission to evade prosecution. Theser were contained in a letter he conveyed to the Executive Secretary, NHRC on August 25, 2015.
In a related reaction, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Anthony Mogboh observed that the Commission's invitation was overreaching since the matters were already pending before Courts of competent jurisdiction. In three paragraphs Chief Mogbog (SAN) noted that:
1, The two students mentioned in Professor Angwe's invitation, Ga-Lim A. Lord and Okoye Stanley are cultists and this will be proved in a court of competent jurisdiction in due course because criminality has no statute of limitation.
2. Presently thetwo students are using their connections at the NHRC, the Police and the Press to avoid prosecution for now and are shifting the blames on the authorities of the University.
3. They have taken actions at the Federal High Court, Enugu Division in suit no. FHC/EN/CS/50/2015 Ifeanyi Stanley Okoye & 2Ors v. Rev Isaac Nginga & Anor; to give the impression that they are innocent.
The above grounds upon which the Lawyers faulted the NHRC invitation were subscribed to by another eminent Lawyer, Ohagba Ohagba Esq. According to him he doubted if Professor Angwe, the Executive Secretary NHRC ever knew of the pending Court cases before issuing the invitations.
In a Press Release by the Counsel to Madonna University published in the DAILY SUN and Vanguard Newspapers of Monday August 31, 2015, it was clearly explained that it was the two students who beat up the Chief Security Officer of the University for issuing an invitation to the students to appear before the Senate Disciplinary Committee of the University over their involvemement in secret cult activities on campus. The two students and the Chief Security Officer, in the course of the altercation sustained some injuries resulting from a fall with their victim (the Chief Security Officer) from a moving bus inside which they launched the attack. They were all treated free-of-charge by the University's Teaching Hospital after which the students instituted legal action, delusively hoping to evade criminal prosecution by so doing.