Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, has signed into law the Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law No 2 of 2020 (ISACJL, 2020), which empowers him to arrest and detain any resident of the state for as long as he wishes. According to this law, any person detained on the orders of Uzodinma can only be released when he grants a license to the said individual.
Section 484 of the Law provides: “Where any person is ordered to be detained during the Governor’s pleasure he shall notwithstanding anything in this Law or in any other written law contained be liable to be detained in such place and under such conditions as the Governor may direct and whilst so detained shall be deemed to be in legal custody”. Controversies have trailed the legality or otherwise of the provisions relating to “pleasure”, permitting the State Governor to detain suspects at his pleasure.
In addition, the Law abolished all forms of preliminary inquiry or preliminary investigation into a criminal charge by a magistrate or any court in the state and replaced them with preparation of proof of evidence.
Section 485 of the ISACJL, 2020 provides:
(1) A person detained during the Governor’s pleasure may at any time be discharged by the Governor on license which said license may be in such form and in such conditions as the governor may direct under section 485(2).
(2) A license under subsection (1) of this section may be in such form and may contain such conditions as the Governor may direct.
(3) A license under this section may at anytime be revoked or varied by the Governor and where license has been revoked the person to whom the license relates shall proceed to such place as the Governor may direct and if he fails to do so, may be arrested without warrant and taken to such place.
By the above provision, it means the Governor can detain a suspect at will and direct the custody in which such a person is to be kept. Policy analysts have condemned the law, stating that it sets a bad precedence and contradicts the constitution of the Federal Republic.
Meanwhile Human Rights Activists, Mr. Aku Obidinma has called on his fellow comrades in Imo State to rise up and fight what he describes as “draconian law” in the state.
“Having confirmed the existence of the draconian Section 484 in the Imo state Administration of Criminal Justice law recently accented to by the Governor, which gives him powers to arrest and detain and release Imolites at his pleasure. I have therefore decided to approach the law court for it to be quashed since it runs contrary to the provisions of our constitution which is the ground norm.
I am working to initiate this action on Monday because delay can be dangerous here. Therefore if your social consciousness has grown to the height that you could sacrifice for the betterment and good of the society that you want to join the struggle to KILL SECTION 484, kindly inbox me tonight or first thing tomorrow morning to join in the meeting with the legal team for this action.” He said in a statement distributed on social media.