Police Brutality: NBA Branch Advocates Witness Protection In Criminal Cases
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Bayelsa State has advocated the domestication of the witness protection policy under the Nigerian law, saying its involvement in the trial and conviction of offenders will serve as a deterrent.
The Bayelsa State Secretary of the NBA and Chief Prosecutor of the Police Sergeant, Ebiere Emmanuela Ekpese, said witness protection was effective in the trial of Police Sergeant, Timadi Emmanuel, in the killer of 19 years old undergraduate Tarila Nikade.
The NBA, Sagbama Chapter had in 2019 through its Human Rights Committee taken up the case of extrajudicial killing against a Police Sergent attached to the Akenfa Police Division, in the cold-blooded murder of a 19 years old undergraduate of the State-owned University, Niger Delta University (NDU).
The case was handed to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution with Five witnesses called, including a medical doctor, despite the alleged threats from some unidentified colleague of the killer police officer.
The Killer Police Sergeant was subsequently arrested, dismissed from the Police Force after an orderly room trial and arraigned before Justice Maltida Ayemieye.
Ayemieye had recently in her judgment agreed with the prosecution that Emmanuel killed Nikade in cold blood and sentenced him to death by hanging.
Ekpese Esq, who is also the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Sagbama branch and the prosecutor of the case which lasted two years, argued that the conviction would help to rein in Police brutality.
Ekpese said, “It was a victory for everyone because not too long ago, there was the EndSARS protest against police brutality. For me, this case is like deterrence to other Police officers that take laws into their hands. That you are a Policeman does not give you the right to fire and shoot. For God’s sake, the deceased was not even found with anything”.
“It is a form of victory, even though I don’t like to use that word, for the Ministry of Justice and NBA Sagbama because this is one thing we are also fighting as a branch through our Human Rights Committee. We are strongly against some of these things. Aside from this matter that I prosecuted, I am aware of one or two cases of Police brutality the branch is handling, but this case (State V Timadi) was not one of them”.
Ekpese Esq also advocated for witness protection policy in Nigeria as obtained in other countries of the world to ensure witnesses are not vulnerable to threats and pave the way for the successful prosecution of capital offences.
On the issue of the decision of the State Ministry of Justice to deny the application for Fiat to prosecute the case, Ekpese stressed that application of fiat does not mean automatic approval but at the discretion of the State Attorney- General, who by the provisions of the constitution is empowered to take over any case.