Mohbad: Why are Naira Marley and Sam Larry Remanded?
I have asked a number of astute minds within the legal professional the above question. No meaningful response has sufficed apart from confirming that these arrests and remand have again showcased the unprofessional conduct of the security agents in Nigeria.
Only recently, a good friend and lawyer, Douglas Ogbankwa Esq. was badly assaulted at the office of the State Security Service, SSS, in Benin City, Edo State. There were threats to shoot him for performing his professional duties as a lawyer.
They wanted to prevent him from being present while his client was being interrogated, a constitutional right guaranteed to his client. Although this was condemned by well-meaning Nigerians across board, the action was a worrisome demonstration of barbarism by the security agents in the 21st century, in a democracy that has been unbroken for over two decades now.
This action is one too many acts of lawlessness by our security agents, especially the Police. Just yesterday, one of my friends, another lawyer, narrated his ordeal to me where his client who was under the custody of the Police was told to implicate him in an alleged robbery. This was apparently calculated to instill fear in lawyers who go to the police force and other security agents to represent suspects.
I am trying to come to terms with the reason why in the case of the death of Mohbad, Naira Marley (the owner of Marley Records) where Mohbad was signed but left over a year ago; and Sam Larry, a show promoter, would be remanded in the custody of the Police for many days without charge even when the process of investigation is on.
I have seen and read tons of the processes of Police investigation in the West, especially the United Kingdom (UK). One cannot but appreciate their professional and diligent conducts during investigation to avoid trampling on the fundamental rights of suspects or persons of interest. Before arrest is made, there will be compelling proof of involvement, circumstantial or physical or both, linking the suspect to the alleged crime before an arrest warrant is issued.
What exactly is the basis of remanding both Naira Marley and Sam Larry even when investigations are yet to be concluded? The police should start thinking of how they can undertake thorough investigation of crimes before arrest and arraignment, and possible remand by the court. It is not only archaic, it is unprofessional in the 21st century to do otherwise.
Naira Marley and Sam Larry appear to have water-tight alibis: they were both outside the shores of the country when Mohbad died in suspicious circumstances. Secondly, the autopsy report of his death has not been released, so on what basis were this persons arrested and remanded? Is it not possible he died of natural causes or of ailments which do not warrant allegation of murder? Why preempting an unconcluded or ongoing investigation process with arrest and remand?
Both remanded individuals willingly flew into the country to assist in the process of investigation. They were not declared wanted or compelled to come to Nigeria. There is no question that they were on the run. So why obtain a remand order for 21 days from a magistrate court, which has no jurisdiction in the first place to try murder?
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) needs holistic reforms, which must include professional trainings of officers and men against human rights abuses. We are not in the Buhari’s 80s or that of Abacha in the 90s. We are in a democracy where rights of individuals ought to be jealously guided. The Police’s penchant for indiscriminate arrest and detention of every individual that is asked to make a statement without having any incriminating evidence against the person is unprofessional and must stop. This is one of the reasons why citizens are often reluctant to honour police invitations. Police invitation, which ought to be civil, is now an express invitation to be arrested and remanded. Some who are well-to-do go to courts to take injunctions against arrest by the Police to prevent being ill-treatment by the police. What of those who cannot afford such judicial intervention?
For the unintiated who will want to attack this article because of the herd mentality prevalent in Nigeria today, this is for you: For now, Naira Marley and co cannot be authoritatively called suspects until very compelling evidence incriminates them. They should be appropriately called PERSONS OF INTEREST who should be free to assist the NPF in carrying out investigation on the death of Mohbad. Social media sensationalism is not known to law if that is what the police authorities are depending on.
The tactics being adopted by the police in this matter is not only crude, it is archaic, repressive and must be rejected by all well meaning individuals. I call on the former 1st Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr John Aikpokpo-Martins, who has been elected the new Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) to intervene in this matter so that justice will prevail. It is Naira Marley and Sam Larry today, who will be the next victim of the unprofessionalism of our law enforcement agencies, in the NPF?