The Chairman of the Governing board of the National Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, did not honour the invitation of the Nigeria police Friday, checks by Premium Times has shown.
Mr. Odinkalu, who was summoned to appear before the Force Criminal Investigation Department today by 11.00am did not show up, Premium Times has learnt.
The human rights chief was summoned over what the police authorities described as “damaging emarks allegedly made by the Chairman, Governing Council Commission of the National Human Rights Commission, against the Nigeria Police Force.”
Mr. Odinkalu had at a presentation on March 5, titled “Plea Bargain and the administration of justice in Nigeria,” stated that, “by some estimates, the police execute well over 2,500 detainees summarily every year.
The statement drew the ire of the police hierarchy; and despite Mr. Odinkalu’s explanation through a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, the human rights boss was still summoned to the Force CID for interrogation and possible arrest.
A source at the Force headquarters said instead of showing up for questioning, Mr. Odinkalu wrote to the IG seeking clarification on the invitation and suggesting a meeting between him and the police boss for Tuesday.
He did not decline
Counsel to Mr. Odinkalu, Bamidele Aturu, however explained to Premium Times that his client did not decline the police invitation.
“It is not a case of a client not showing up,” Mr. Aturu said. “The police need to make very clear the purpose of the invitation.”
Mr. Aturu, who confirmed that the human rights chief has written to the police boss and his deputy, also questioned the potential violation of freedom of speech by the police.
“The invitation raises a lot of issues about freedom of expression. Nobody can be intimidated by police powers,” he said.
Mr. Aturu also queried the basis for the invitation saying, “the law of criminal submission is dead in Nigeria. We are practicing constitutional democracy.”