Home News Despite disregarding court order, NPF Says crowdfunding to assist Chioma is obstructive to the rule of law
News

Despite disregarding court order, NPF Says crowdfunding to assist Chioma is obstructive to the rule of law

336
Police rule of law

The Nigerian Police Force, in a press statement through its Public Relations Officer ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, has said the crowdfunding by spirited Nigerians to support Mrs Chioma Edoka Okoli’s legal pursuits in an ongoing case between her and Erisco Foods Limited is aimed at influencing legal proceedings, stating that such actions undermine the “integrity of the justice system and threaten the principles of fairness and accountability as they are highly inimical to the existence of the rule of law.”

The statement released on Thursday came after police officers, allegedly acting on the directive of the Inspector General of Police, unlawfully invaded and besieged the home of Mrs Chioma for over 10 hours on 9th January 2024 in an attempt to re-arrest her without any charge, summons, or arraignment notice as required by law, in total disregard and in violation of an existing restraining order from the Federal High Court, which stipulated that she should not be re-arrested unless explicitly ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

However, Adejobi, in his statement, failed to disclose how crowdfunding, in this case, is detrimental to the rule of law or how it influences legal proceedings.

He cautioned against disseminating misinformation to manipulate public opinion, stressing that the law operates objectively and that any attempts to undermine it would face legal consequences.

His statement read in part:

The Nigeria Police Force reaffirms its commitment to upholding the rule of law in the Erisco Tomato matter. The involvement of Mrs Chioma warrants scrutiny as she stands accused of violating some salient parts of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 as preliminary investigations conducted have unearthed compelling evidence indicating Mrs Chioma’s alleged role in the violation of extant laws, particularly those related to the proper use of the cyberspace.

At this juncture, it is imperative to caution members of the public against spreading misinformation and attempting to manipulate public sentiment. The law operates impartially, and any attempt to subvert it will be met with the full force of legal action. The recent developments in the case are deeply worrisome, particularly the use of crowdfunding as a means to influence legal proceedings. Such actions undermine the integrity of the justice system and threaten the principles of fairness and accountability as they are highly inimical to the existence of the rule of law.

Asserting the Force’s readiness to enforce all laws without prejudice or bias, Adejobi also urged Nigerians, mainly social media influencers, to embrace the rule of law and refrain from displaying sentiments that could compromise the integrity of legal proceedings.

Responding, Chioma’s lead counsel, Inibehe Effiong, said the press release was baseless and called on Adejobi to desist from propaganda and imbibe responsible policing. He added that it was laughable for the Force PRO to say they were upholding the rule of law when their actions totally disregarded it. 

Effiong said Adejobi’s claim that crowdfunding would influence the proceedings is incoherent and unreasonable; however, he charged him to come forward if he needed a share of the funds generated by spirited individuals.

“The Force PRO also insinuated that the crowdfunding by spirited Nigerians to support Chioma’s legal pursuits is aimed at “influencing legal proceedings.” We are unable to make sense of this particular statement as it is neither coherent nor reasonable.

It is preposterous for the Force PRO to insinuate that crowdfunding can influence legal proceedings. He failed to state how this is possible or how it affects Chioma’s case. If the Force PRO is interested in getting a share of the funds contributed by concerned Nigerians to support Chioma, he should come out plainly and say so instead of indulging in embarrassment,” he said.

The lead counsel said they were shocked by the false narrative that Chioma had jumped bail and threatened to sue Adejobi for defamation of Character. He also said they considered the PRO’s statement on unearthing “compelling evidence” against Chioma as “prejudicial to a fair trial”. He urged the police to allow the court to determine the case rather than a media trial.

He added that:

The fact of the matter is that since the Police filed their charge against her, they refused or failed to serve her with a copy of the charge. Chioma has also not been served with a trial notice or summons from the court. Before rushing to the media to scandalise our client, the Force PRO should have sought legal advice on the extant legal procedures.

Under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, a defendant who is not in custody must be served with a copy of the charge, along with proof of evidence and notice of trial. These are preconditions for the defendant’s appearance in court.

Efiong said they deserved commendation for obtaining the certified true copy of the charge rather than spreading malicious narratives about Chioma.

About The Author

Related Articles

News

Hundeyin Reacts to VOA’s ‘Fact-Check’ of His X Post on US Military Bases in Africa

Investigative Journalist and Founder of West Africa Weekly, David Hundeyin, has responded...

FC Barcelona has appointed Hansi Flick as their new head coach following the dismissal of Xavi Hernández. The announcement,
NewsSports

Hansi Flick Named New Head Coach of FC Barcelona as Xavi Says Goodbye

FC Barcelona has appointed Hansi Flick as their new head coach after...

Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, announced scholarships and distributed various gift items to 100 about-to-be-married orphaned girls in Niger State on Thursday.
News

Niger State: Women Affairs Minister Supports Mass Marriage With Donations And Scholarships

Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, announced scholarships and distributed various gift...

News

Against Court Order, Sanusi Lamido Turbaned as 16th Emir of Kano

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has on Friday officially received his letter of appointment...