By Perez Brisibe, Ughelli
MIXED reactions are trailing the arrest of the videographer behind the viral video alleging the killing of one person by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, in Ughelli, headquarters of Ughelli North local government area of Delta State.
The suspect, Nicholas Makolomi, who calls himself prince, in the company of two other unidentified persons when the video was shot, was arrested on Monday at an undisclosed location in Ughelli and taken to the headquarters of the State Police Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Asaba for investigation.
A source at the SCID had disclosed to our reporter that the suspect risked being charged to court for allegedly inciting violence and spreading false information among other charges in relation to the cyber criminal laws.
However, as of Thursday evening, findings by Sunday Vanguard revealed that the suspect was yet to be charged to court and was still in police custody amidst outrage calling for his release.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, had, in a statement, accused the police of chasing shadows on the matter, saying: “I urge the police to release this gentleman and drop all charges against him. His wrong judgment of the victim’s state nonetheless, by recording the incident and releasing it, he did a patriotic duty as a citizen. This is purely a case of leaving the substance and chasing shadows.”
Speaking on the legal implication of the continued detention of the suspect, an Abuja based rights advocate, Edward Brisibe, said: “There is no need for the arrest or detention of the young man because according to his statement to the police, he honestly believed the report he was making at that point in time was the truth.
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“Hence, he has not committed any criminal offence known to law to warrant his being arrested and detained by the Department of Criminal Investigation for that matter.
“Of course, we should frown at false reports and I believe there are other ways this should have been handled and not detaining him for criminal charges.
“This obviously seems like a scapegoat situation which is far from the boiling police related issues all over the country today”.
On its part, the umbrella body for the Urhobo ethnic nationality, Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, appealed to Delta State Police Command to release the suspect, stressing that it will not condone unnecessary use of power to suppress the Urhobo people in particular and Nigerians in general.
UPU Publicity Secretary, Abel Oshevire, while speaking on the matter, said: “The police should be fair in dealing with anyone that is suspected to have committed a crime. “Until he is found guilty, he is innocent and should be allowed to enjoy his freedom through bail and that is what the law says because we are not a lawless society.
“We are therefore appealing to the police, particularly Delta State Police Command, to release the young man as quickly as possible or charge him to court if they believe he has contravened any laws of the land.
“Anything short of that will amount to injustice and oppression. We believe that our son is innocent until it is proven otherwise and we demand that he be released immediately.”