Mr. Jubrin Samuel Okutepa, SAN, has bared his mind on the controversy that has trailed the provision of section 484 of the Imo Administration of Criminal Justice Law

Okutepa, in a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer (TNL), said he doesn’t agree with the views been expressed on the amendment.

“Yesterday the social media was agog and awash with anger over the signing into law of Imo State Criminal Justice Law Amendment Law that amended the provisions relating to detentions of persons at the pleasure of the Governor.

“Many people were angry and called the Governor names for signing such law under a democratic government. A lot was written. But deep down in me I was not carried along with the views expressed by those who went to town on the amendments done.” he said

According to the learned silk, the law does not empower the governor of the state to make arrests Anyhow as suggested by the views. He said he shouldn’t be misunderstood because he is not a fan of governor Uzodinma neither is he a member of any political party.

“But let me not be misunderstood. I am not from Imo State. Gov Hope Uzodima is no my client or friend and I am not holding brief for him. I am also not a member of any political parties in Nigeria including APC and PDP. I am writing as a Nigerian and a Nigerian lawyer trained in the core tradition of the profession. I do not allow emotion to becloud my vision when speaking about law and legal issues.

“As lawyers and Nigerians, we must have deep knowledge of issues before casting aspersions and stones at ourselves. With respect section 484 of the Imo State Criminal law did not empower the gov to detain anyhow as being suggested in many write-ups.”

Okutepa, SAN, quoted section 484 of the Law which provides:

“ ‘Where any person is ordered to be detained during the Governor’s pleasure he shall notwithstanding anything in this Law or in any other written law contained be liable to be detained in such place and under such conditions as the Governor may direct….’ ”

Okutepa’s interpretation of the section is that there has to be an order of the court for detention of a person for the section to apply

“There has to be judicial order for a person to be detained at the pleasure of the gov. This has been part of our laws. A convict can be detained at the pleasure of the gov.

“That is my understanding of the law reading section 484 of it wholistically. Thankfully DETENTION AT GOVERNOR’S PLEASURE has been parts of our laws.” he said

Furthermore, the prominent lawyer quoted extensively from the case of Guobadia V State to buttress his point that the section 484 of Imo ACJL shall apply only when there is court order for detention. He quoted the decision as follows:

” ‘Section 368 (3) (of Criminal Procedure Law), where an offender who in the opinion of the court had not attained the age of seventeen years at the time the offence was committed is found guilty of a capital offence, sentence of death shall not be pronounced or recorded but in lieu thereof, the court shall order such person to be detained during the pleasure of the Governor and if so ordered he shall be detained in accordance with the provisions of Part 44 notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any written law.

Section 208 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Learned Counsel for the respondent has conceded, quite rightly, that since it was doubtful that the appellant had attained the age of 17 years when he committed the offence, that doubt ought to be resolved in his favour. On this score alone, this appeal succeeds with respect to the death sentence pronounced on the appellant.

The appeal is allowed. The death sentence passed on the appellant is set aside and in its place, the appellant is ordered to be detained at the pleasure of the Governor of Edo State’

“See the case of Guobadia vs. The State (2004) All FWLR (Pt. 205) 191 SC, (2004) 2 SCNJ 55.”

According to the learned silk, the provision is not new as it has been part of “our criminal jurisprudence”. It applies to those exempted from death sentence. He urged that the law should be thoroughly read before condemning it.

“Yesterday I had cautioned us to read the law before we cast stones at Gov Hope Uzodima. I am not a fan of breach of our laws and I will not encourage or assist or support anyone to violate and breach any part of the freedom enshrined in our constitution. But I know that detaining persons at the pleasure of governor has been part of our criminal jurisprudence. Such detentions apply after trial and pertaining to certain classes of persons whom sentence of death must not be handed down to. That is what the Supreme decision says in the case of Goubadia vs The State supra. The amendments done to Imo State Criminal justice law therefore cannot be for detentions of all manner of persons without first going through judicial processes. I think we need to be thorough before we condemn. The mob actions in Nigeria most atimes becloud our objectivity. Let us be objective in our discussions on issues.It will help build our nation.” Okutepa concluded

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