As public outrage continues over the illegal arrest and detention of African Independent Television (AIT) reporter, Amaechi Anakwe, by Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Joseph Mbu, some senior lawyers in the country have called for the notorious police officer to be sacked.
Nigerians from all walks of life have expressed disgust over the many infractions committed by Mr. Mbu.
Among them are two legal practitioners and Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, Itse Sagay and Mike Ozekhome.
In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, the duo condemned Mr. Mbu’s ill treatment of Mr. Anakwe.
Similarly, a Port Harcourt-based civil society group, Doing Democracy Movement-Nigeria, DDM-N, has invited well-meaning Nigerians to join the campaign to get Mr. Mbu out of the Nigeria Police.
The DDM-N’s Convener, Anyakwe Nsirimovu, made this known while speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on the controversial arrest of the broadcast journalist.
Mr. Anakwe had described Mr. Mbu as “controversial” during an interview programme on the AIT and was subsequently arrested, detained and prosecuted on the orders of the troublesome cop.
But Mr. Sagay, a professor of law, said Mr. Mbu’s overreaching action exemplified the growing level of impunity and gross abuse of power exhibited by some public officers in Nigeria.
By using state power against innocent Nigerians, the senior legal practitioner insisted that Mr. Mbu is not fit to wear the uniform of the Nigerian Police.
“Mr. Mbu is not fit for the uniform he is wearing, therefore, he should be suspended and the Police Service Commission, PSC, should set up a disciplinary panel to try him for his offences against humanity and the constitution of this country,” he said.
“In a sane society where there is rule of law, Mr. Mbu should have been suspended for using state power to oppress law abiding citizens, abuse human rights and the constitutional rights of the people.”
Mr. Sagay explained that as a journalist, Mr. Anakwe has the right to make comments on the behavour of Mr. Mbu or any other Nigerian.
“A press man is privileged as far as making comments are concern. That is what journalists are engaged to do on behalf of society,” he said.
“If Mr. Mbu was dissatisfied, there is a law of defamation. He should have gone to court but to use the powers meant for the arrest of criminals, to arrest an innocent professional doing his legitimate duty, clearly shows that not only is Mbu controversial, he is also unfit for the position he is occupying.”
Mr. Sagay insisted that Mr. Mbu is overdue for dismissal, saying that his conduct shows that he is more of a politician than a law enforcement officer.
The human rights activist said, “He (Mr. Mbu) is not a police officer. He is a power-drunk politician because others are not like that. He should have been removed long ago.”
On his part; Mr. Ozekhome, reeled out a litany of infractions committed by Mr. Mbu and called on the Police Service Commission to constitute a panel to probe him.
He said it is appalling that after serving for years as a police officer and at the twilight of his career, Mr. Mbu could descend so low to the extent of taking the law into his own hands.
On his part, Mr. Ozekhome argued that Mr. Mbu should have conducted himself honourably and in a way that is acceptable not only to Nigerians but also to the Nigeria Police and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“But his conduct so far,” he said, “has done a lot of damage to the image and credibility of the Nigeria Police and to the government of President Goodluck Joanthan,” he said.
He maintained that the antecedence of Mr. Mbu has shown that he is a police officer who is anti-people and always courting trouble.
Mr. Ozekhome revealed that it was Mr. Mbu, who, on July 10, 2003, led a team of policemen to abduct the then Governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige, on the orders of a man he described as a “political buccaneer” from the state.
While serving as commissioner of police in Oyo State, the legal practitioner said Mr. Mbu on February 11, 2013, deployed three armoured personnel carriers and policemen numbering over 250 and illegally sacked the Ashipa of Oyo Kingdom from his palace in Isele Oyo.
In the same year, he said the cop led the team of policemen that sacked the palace of the Olubadn of Ibadan.
Mr. Ozekhome further drew attention to Mr. Mbu’s action while on posting to Rivers State as commissioner of police.
He maintained that Mr. Mbu’s conduct in Rivers State and his attack on unarmed campaigners of #BringBackOurGirls, are some of the most embarrassing actions of the infamous cop.
He said, “Now the straw that finally breaks Mbu’s back is the illegal, unconstitutional and mindless arrest and detention of Amaechi Anekwe, an innocent correspondent with the AIT.
“His alleged offence was that he (Mr. Anakwe) described him (Mr. Mbu) as controversial. If all the things Mbu has done are not controversial, I do not know what else would make an individual controversial.”
Also speaking, Mr. Nsirimovu noted that the action of the controversial AIG represented an abominable despotism and an agenda approved by the state to silence dissent voices as the 2015 polls approach.
“AIG Mbu,” he said, “without any shadow of doubt is testing the waters in preparation of the high-handedness that will ensue against critical voices of dissent, as we close in on the 2015 elections.”
While condemning what he described as “reprehensible barbarism in the age of improvement,” Mr. Nsirimovu said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, has guaranteed the freedom of speech and belief and the freedom from feat and want.
If Nigeria must achieve peace, given the precarious situation it has found itself, Mr. Nsirimovu said the government must seriously frown at any violation of the rule of law and punish people like Mr. Mbu, who engage in arbitrariness.
He drew attention to the UDHR’s preamble which states that “It is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”
Mr. Nsirimovu argued that free speech is an indispensable tool of self-governance in a democratic society and a means of participation in the processes of decision-making that shape the polity.
He argued that, “Freedom of thought, conscience, and expression are numinous values linked to the defining characteristics of the human person.”
Mr. Nsirimovu, therefore, insisted that the time has come for Nigeria to embrace the culture of an open society and free speech, regardless of individual or group ambition.
“Political participation is an avenue of individual fulfillment, and the dignity of the individual is enlarged by recognition of the right to participate in collective self-governance, which AIG Mbu continues to seriously deface with reckless abandon.
“A government structure that retains the likes of AIG Mbu with a record of persistent gross violations of human rights of citizens cannot be said to serve the interest and social welfare of its citizens.”