Some lawyers in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, have reacted to the reported subjection of former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, to ‘unusual’ security checks at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
They accused the security operatives involved in the purported ‘checks’ of playing to the tune of the government in power by adding political ‘coloration’ to their work.
The lawyers said this on Monday in separate interviews with DAILY POST in Abuja.
Recall that Atiku, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential candidate in next year’s general elections, had alleged that upon his arrival from Dubai, his private jet was unusually searched in a move he said was meant to harass and intimidate him and his supporters.
He had been in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on holiday since winning the PDP’s ticket, last month.
Speaking, however, Barr. Okere Kingdom, Senior Counsel at Prima Facie Chambers Abuja, questioned the timing of the raid on Atiku, asking whether the security checks would have been conducted had he not emerged the presidential flagbearer of the opposition party.
He said: “Generally, security agencies have statutory mandate to work within the confines of the law that established them.
“But, the problem with this country is that they (security agencies) don’t work within the confines of the law that established them. Rather, they work within the whims and caprices of the government in power.
“Before Atiku emerged the presidential candidate of the PDP, why have they not been subjecting him to such checks? Hasn’t he been flying with his private jet? Don’t APC chieftains have private jets? Doesn’t Tinubu have a private jet? Has he undergone severe security checks? Is he a saint?
“Security agents should at all times work within the confines of the law no matter whose ox is goad. So, Atiku’s security checks is wrongly timed whether it was for good or bad. It will be calculated as a political attempt to rubbish him.”
On his part, Barr. Hezekiah Ivoke, the Principal Counsel of Hedzeking & Co. Abuja, citing section 4 of the Police Act, said the police had the powers to check the ex-VP at anytime if there were sufficient reasons for operatives to suspect him of committing an offence or possessing an incriminating material.
His words: “Section 4 of the Police Act empowers the police to arrest, investigate, and prosecute anybody reasonably suspected to have committed an offence.
“Similarly, sections 34 & 35 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) also limits the liberties of a citizen for the purpose of discovering whether he has committed an offence or possesses incriminating materials.
“But, our laws do not permit the military to investigate the commission of crime. But when the military is used in such a way as to procure unnecessary harassment or to exert powers or force or to infuse a fear that will amount to what the Supreme Court described as mental torture on person is illegal.”