On Thursday’s been the 7th day of October, 2021 while the nation awaits in awe and dampen spirit the 2022 budget presentation of the Mr president to the National Assembly and the citizens being engrossed with the thought of the reality of the economic recession that’s closing down on Nigeria due to the ineptitude of the managers of the economy and the inabilities of the stakeholders of the nation, the military derailed (again) from their statutory assignments given to them by law, became power drunk and exhibited lawlessness which is their second nature and attacked a renown nollywood actor and elder statesman, Mr Chiwetalu Agu, berated him before his fans, lovers and passers by. They dragged him around the streets of Onitsha like a common thief who stole a pound of salt from the village market square. They also went ahead and groped him and threw him into their van like a condemned criminal who has been sentenced to death by firing squad and took him all the way to Enugu State from Anambra state where he was detained and tortured for over 30 hours.
What was his (alleged) offense?
According to the official statement released by the Nigerian Army which was signed by the Army Director of Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, they alleged that Mr. Chiwetalu Agu was arrested while soliciting support for the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which is a proscribed sect. They also claimed that the renowned Nollywood actor who had worked his way to the top to become one of the most sought after filmmakers in Nigeria was inciting people to join the Ipob sect and garnering support for the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). They pointed to that fact that Mr Chiwetalu Agu was putting on an attire and colours used in Identifying the Biafra separatists as an evidence that he was inciting other countrymen to join the Biafra cause and garnering support from his fans and supporters to align their interests with that of the Indigenous People of Biafra at Upper Iweka in Onitsha, the popular commercial city in the South Eastern Nigeria where the incident took place.
Is wearing a cloth or colour used in identifying a sect or group which is proscribed an offense known to law?
The answer is typical ‘No’.
There’s no law in Nigeria criminalizing or punishing anybody for wearing a color or clothe used in identifying a particular group. Therefore, wearing a clothe or colour used in identifying a particular group does not make one a criminal and shouldn’t be treated as such and according S.36(12) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which was appreciated and stretched in detail in the landmark case of Aoko V. Fagbemi and the recent case of George V. Federal Republic of Nigeria, the law is succinct as it clearly provides that on no account should anybody be punished for any offense or purported offense which is not known to law or any offense which is not written down in any law.
Therefore, in that angle, the Nigerian army exhibited a high level of lawlessness in descending on the old man and they owe him a proper apology with due compensations for the hardship and trauma he suffered in their cold hands.
Be it noted that i for one as an astute legal practitioner and a minister in the temple of justice is advocating for violence neither am I in support of citizens taking laws into their hands in the cause of them seeking for their voice to be heard. I am not also ignorant of the law that says once a group or sect is proscribed, being a member of that group or inviting others to join that proscribed group becomes an offense which is punishable at law and proscription offenses carry up to 20 years of jail term as provided in the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act, 2013 but wearing a clothe which can be linked to a particular group cannot automatic be translated to membership or support for that proscribed group which the clothe identifies. So, there was no known offense committed here.
The recent acts of the Nigerian Army is setting them up for ridicule and disrepute as the Nigerian Army has distinct functions as highlighted by the constitution and other statutes and arresting or detaining a citizen for wearing a clothe used in identifying a particular set Is not one of them and even if Mr. Chiwetalu Agu committed an offense known to law it is the job of the police and not the army to call him to order.