Evans’ jail term salutary, againt Injustice of Wadume’s sentence — HURIWA



By Ridwan Adekunle

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) has described as appropriate justice the fresh jail term handed out to kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State Special Offences Court.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement on Tuesday described as a strong demonstration of the wheel of justice, the 21 years imprisonment apportioned to Evans (an indigene of Anambra State) who was convicted for kidnapping, alongside his accomplices.

This is just as the Rights group said no sane mind will begrudge the judgment because the crime of kidnapping is worst than slavery and must be stamped out by all means possible.

Earlier in February 2022, Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court sentenced Evans and two others to life imprisonment for conspiracy and abduction. Evans, however, still has outstanding cases before Justice Adedayo Akintoye also of the same court.

The group said on the other hand, in August, Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja sentenced Taraba-based kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, aka Wadume to seven years imprisonment for similar charges as Evans.

HURIWA viewed the sentence as a slap in the wrists demanding that the Police authority must initiate fresh prosecution of the Taraba kidnap kingpin and his co-conspirators over the murder of some police operatives who arrested him in Taraba State.

Against this, the group held that “no decent-minded young Nigerian should be encouraged to enlist in the Nigeria Police Force that is unwilling to defend the sanctity of life of their operatives.

“The fresh conviction of Evans, a kidnap kingpin is salutary but when compared to the Taraba kidnapping kingpin Wadume the judgment from the Federal High Court on Wadume is a mockery of the judiciary and the entire wheel of justice in Nigeria.

“The judiciary is allegedly aiding kidnapping because whilst Evans offences attracted far heavier sanctions which we are not particularly opposed to, Wadume, who was arraigned for exactly the same crime of kidnapping, amongst others got lighter punishment after the years of secrecy that shrouded his trial.

“In this situation where the same offences attracted different punishments because of the individuals involved, HURIWA is forced to believe that Nigeria’s judiciary has been exposed to ridicule.

“This is because there is no justification anywhere for the injustice done on the case of Wadume whereas we as a civil rights members who are fully aware of the danger of kidnapping we pleased with the handling of the case of Evans.

“It is the case of Jacob I love, Esau I hate even though the Jacob in this instance – Wadume – is treacherous even above the Esau in this case.

“The judiciary should be dispassionate and no respecter of persons. The Lady of Justice is supposed to be blindfolded and not reckon with religious sentiments but it is unfortunate that certain actions of some judges have removed the blindfold on the Lady of Justice in Nigeria, serving their kinsmen lighter sentences and their foes grave and unjustifiable jail terms or persistent adjournments and languishing in the dungeons of the law enforcement agencies.

“We don’t want to believe that the sentencing of Evans to prolonged imprisonment is probably because of his place of origin given that as human rights crusaders we are in support of the application of the death penalty for armed kidnapping but the reason for the slap on the wrists given to Wadume is despicable and absolutely awkward.

“HURIWA unequivocally call for the retrial of Wadume or asks that no self-respecting persons should offer themselves to enlist in the Nigeria Police Force since the lives of three policemen were allegedly wasted by Wadume.

“And going by the skewed judgement of Justice Nyako, it is apparent that the loss of lives of three persons who may be the breadwinners of their families doesn’t matter to the judiciary or rather the office of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice who may have framed weak charges which offend the expectation of the citizens on the Justice minister who should be the upholder of justice and nothing else.

“That verdict in Abuja on the Taraba kidnapping kingpin is absolutely treacherous and if the reason is because of the deliberately distorted charges with lesser sentence framed by the prosecutors then President Muhammadu Buhari needs to sack the federal Attorney General and minister of justice with immediate effect.

“Alas! The executive arm of government has captured the judiciary! The Nigeria Bar Association and other allied bodies must not look on or pretend not to be aware of this sham as well as this unacceptable verdict in the case of the Taraba kidnapping kingpin being served in the courtrooms,” HURIWA argued.

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