Group Condemns Media Trial of Chidinma Ojukwu, Says its Violation of Her Rights Without Her Legal Aids
Following alleged murder of the Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Michael Usifo Ataga, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, yesterday, condemned alleged media trial and violation of Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu, who is the accused in the case.
This was contained in a statement signed by the National Coordinator, LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu SAN, where it pointed that it is unlawful that the Nigeria Police Force (State CID, Panti) has denied Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu access to a legal representative and has compelled her to make statements in the presence of journalists and other media agencies.
According to the statement courts have in several decisions condemned such a public parade of criminal suspects as an illegal practice.
The statement reads in part, “Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) strongly condemn the media trial and police parade of Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu; a 300 level student of the department of mass communication at the University of Lagos on the alleged murder of Super TV chief executive officer – Michael Usifo Ataga.
“LEDAP as a body relentlessly seeks to ensure that the fundamental rights of vulnerable citizens are protected against abuse and violations. In the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, Section 36 sub-section (1) and (5) the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees the fundamental right to fair hearing and the presumption of innocence respectively.
“The core sense of the fundamental right to fair hearing is to ensure that in determination of civil rights and obligations, the process and administration of criminal justice is conducted in such a way as to guarantee independence and impartiality.
“Hence, the recent police parade of Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu by the Nigeria Police Force clearly violates her fundamental right to fair hearing as provided under the Nigerian Constitution.
“This worrisome act by the Nigeria Police Force has led to the ongoing media trial of Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu which clearly violates her fundamental right principle of presumption of innocence as provided in Section 36(5) which states thus; “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty”.
“The trial by media and police parade unduly interferes with justice delivery and LEDAP firmly condemns this act as every suspect enjoys constitutional protection of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and respect of his person or put properly, right to the dignity of a human person under section 34(1)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution.”