Unlawful Detention Of Tim Elombah Using Modified Anti Press Decree 4
Of 1984 (Cyber Stalking): IGP Ibrahim Idris Has Crossed The Redlines
Of His Constitutional Powers Requiring His Sack
(Onitsha, Southeast Nigeria: 18th Jan 2018)-It is now 17 days after
the ancestral home of the Elombah Family in Otolo, Nnewi, Anambra
State was cordoned off and surrendered by over fifteen operatives of
the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) in the early morning or between
5am and 5.30am on the New Year Day of 1st January 2018; a nationally
proclaimed public holiday or a day of the blue law when government
offices and other public establishments are closed for businesses or
official activities.
During the invasion, the entire Elombah family including their wives,
children and the aging mother were held hostage, threatened and
traumatized. The entire family house and all its rooms were also
ransacked and thoroughly searched without warrant; after which
valuable items including smart phones and laptops were made away with
till date.
The invasion of the Family of the Elombahs on a national holiday was
singlehandedly ordered and officially sealed by the Inspector General
of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kpotum Idris; using the Federal SARS; a
police department established for sole purpose of combating violent
crimes of armed robbery and kidnapping. In the course of the ungodly
and unconstitutional invasion, all adult male members of the Elombah
Family; numbering six, were abducted; after which three were freed at
the Awkuzu State SARS headquarters, Anambra State and three others,
namely Daniel (UK based lawyer), Timothy (editor of Elombah online
news) and Izuchukwu (a businessman trading in Niger State) were taken
to the Federal SARS Headquarters at Abuja where Citizens Daniel and
Izuchukwu Elombah were granted bail the next day; leaving Timothy
detained without trial till date.
The criminal offence, written and known to Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution
and criminal laws; warranting such violent invasion and use of
excessive force was never disclosed to the Family at the point of the
invasion or at the Akwuzu SARS headquarters where the abductees were
briefly taken to before being moved to Abuja. The non-disclosure of
the offence to the arrested or their family members or lawyers
continued after more than two days.
The abductors later came up with allegation of offence of “criminal
defamation against the person of IGP”; claiming that the Elombahs via
Timothy wrote and published an online article against the IGP titled:
“IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies”. The article
under quote, according to the abductees had nothing to do them or
their news site. It was published in a number of news sites on 22nd
December 2017 by one Ebiowei Dickson; who neither works for the
Elombahs nor publishes on their news site. The link to the said
article is here:

As if this was not enough, the IGP, in a clear case of prosecutorial
vindictiveness, refused to free and discharge the Elombahs with an
apology and compensation; but went and secured, questionably, a seven
days investigative remand order from Mpape Area Court in Abuja to
further detain Citizen Tim Elombah. The seven days investigative
remand order, secured on 2nd Jan 2018 has expired without renewal
since 9th January 2018; yet Citizen Tim Elombah has been detained for
nine more days without bail or trial; over an alleged misdemeanour
offence carrying only maximum 3years imprisonment on conviction.
At the expiration of the seven days investigative remand order on 9th
January 2018, the Family of Tim Elombah and his lawyers went to secure
his release or observe his arraignment and trial in court, but were
told by the authorities of Federal SARS, under the instruction of IGP
that “he cannot be released but will remain with us until we tidy up
his file to arraign and charge him for Cyber Stalking before an Abuja
Federal High Court”.
When reminded by his lawyers of the expiration of the court remand
order since 9th Jan and non-renewal of same or arraignment of their
captive, the Federal SARS authorities told them to remember that “this
is IG’s personal matter under whose order and instructions your
brother is with us here until otherwise instructed or directed”.
As leaders of the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights & Good
Governance Organizations,  SBCHROs; among us are lawyers,
criminologists, philosophers, political scientists and journalists,
etc; the ordeal of the Elombahs in the hands of IGP and his anti armed
robbery operatives and officers is a clear case of not only abuse of
power and office; prohibited by Section 15 (5) of Nigeria’s 1999
Constitution, but also a total recourse to infamous Decrees 2 and 4 of
1984; which allowed the like of IGP to arrest and detain at will and
outside the law or without trial; of any citizen even without any
credible suspicion of commission of any offence.
Under the said Decrees, citizens were abducted, detained and tortured
recklessly on guesswork or suspicion of simple offences as light as
affray and common assault or identity or tribal hatred called racial
profiling. Under the present central Government since June 2015,
innocent and hated citizens are arrested even in their sleep and
thrown into long detention before the commencement of any form of
investigation. Cases of investigative guesswork, transfer of criminal
responsibility and mistaken identity as well as indiscriminate arrest
and treatment of citizens as violent criminals in criminal allegations
strictly bordering on misdemeanours and simple offences or non-capital
offences are also very rampant under the present Buhari
As publicly known, criminal offences in Nigeria are clearly defined
and categorized by punishments or sentencing. The Nigeria’s 1999
Constitution in its Section 35 also clearly differentiates between
capital offences and non-capital offences and processes and duration
of their investigations. The Criminal Code Act further divides them
into felony (capital and non-capital), misdemeanours and simple
offences; providing for maximum of death/life imprisonment for capital
felony and four years and below life imprisonment for non-capital
felony; and maximum of three years for misdemeanour and maximum of six
months for simple offences.
The ACJ Act of 2015 was enacted to ensure strict adherence to Section
35 (4) of the Constitution by ensuring that any person accused of
committing capital offence and taken into custody for investigation is
not detained ad infinitum or perpetually without trial or court bail.
The Act strongly recommends for the use of court remand, cumulatively
not exceeding 60 days in the case of a person detained without trial
or administrative bail or 90 days if detained but granted temporary
freedom and not yet charged to court.
That is to say that certain categories of criminal offence especially
under non-capital felony, misdemeanour and simple offences such as
white-collar crimes or offences of corruption and cyber crimes
including so called “cyber stalking” and criminal defamation; do not
require “investigative court remand”, not to talk of detention outside
the law or without trial or that done via criminal processes of
extra jus (beyond the law), extra legal (beyond what the written
criminal law provides) and extra judicial (beyond court or judicial
pronouncement or verdict).
For the avoidance of doubt, the so called federal offence of cyber
stalking, legislatively enacted and presidentially assented in late
May 2015 is clearly a non-capital offence, which falls under the
category of misdemeanour; requiring 24hrs detention or no detention
before investigation. The offence, too, does not require detention
without trial or investigative detention with court remand. For an
offence of criminal defamation or cyber stalking to be alleged against
any citizen, the alleging/investigative authorities must have
established some credible elements of linking evidence or the criminal
act done. It requires more of actus reus (criminal act) and some
elements of mens rea (guilty mind). That is to say that there are no
rooms for guesswork, mistaken identity or transfer of criminal
responsibility in offences of cyber stalking or criminal defamation.
Further, the Nigeria's cybercrime law is being used to muzzle the
press and press freedom, which is inconsistent with Sections 22 and 39
of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution.  Otherwise called Cyber Stalking Act
of 2015, the authorities in Nigeria have used the accusation of cyber
stalking to harass and press charges against several bloggers and
other media practitioners who criticized serving and retired public
office holders through online and social media. The Cyber Stalking is
widely seen as the modified version of Decree 4 or anti press freedom
decree of 1984.
Under Section 24 of the so called Cyber Stalking Act, punishment on
conviction carries a fine of up to 7 million naira (USD$22,000) and a
maximum three-year jail term for “anyone convicted of knowingly
sending an online message that he knows to be false, for the purpose
of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult,
injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless
anxiety to another". By the provisions of the Act, it is strictly a
misdemeanour and not a capital offence. It only requires a maximum of
24hrs investigative detention and has nothing whatsoever to do with
several days or weeks of court remand or unconstitutional detention
without trial.

Having grossly breached his oaths of office and allegiance by allowing
his personal interest and bias to override and impeach his public
duties and powers; and by brazenly breaching and making mockery of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended; the
Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kpotum Idris has therefore
overstayed his welcome as Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police. We
call on the Presidency to remove him with immediate effect.
We demand for immediate and unconditional release of Citizen Timothy
Elombah and release of all items confiscated and seized or possessed
from the family members on 1st Jan 2018 including laptops, smart
phones and seized travelling documents and total end to indiscriminate
arrest, torture, intimidation, harassment and detention without trial
of all members of journalism profession in Nigeria. For any of them
that truly breaks the criminal laws of the land, due processes and
provisions of the 1999 Constitution must be followed at all times.
The post administrative bail undertaking signed by the duo of Daniel
and Izuchukwu Elombah at Federal SARS Headquarters making it mandatory
for them to be reporting at Federal SARS at the beck and call of the
investigating officers must be revoked and discontinued.
We also demand a duly written and signed apology from the IGP to be
published in major print, visual and online dailies. The IGP must also
publicly apologize for visiting the Elombahs and their families
especially their children with crude and disproportionate force of
arms through his special anti robbery operatives as if they are
repeat-offender armed robbers.
Coalition Partners: (1)Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of
Law, (2) Civil Liberties Organization, Southeast Zone, (3) Centre for
Human Rights & Peace Advocacy, (4) Human Rights Organization of
Nigeria, (5) Global Rights & Dev Int’l, (6) Society Advocacy Watch
Project, (7) Anambra Human Rights Forum, (8) Southeast Good Governance
Forum, (9) Int’l Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative, (10)
Igbo Ekunie Initiative, (11) Anambra State Branch of the Civil
Liberties Organization, (12) Foundation for Environmental Rights,
Advocacy & Dev, (13) Rural Engagement & Dev Foundation, (14) Society
for Economic Rights & Social Justice, (15) Initiative for Ideal Dev &
Emancipatory Leadership in Nigeria, (16) Igbo National Council,  (17)
Forum for Promotion of National Ethos & Values
For: Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights & Good Governance
Organizations (SBCHROs)
•    Emeka Umeagbalasi (+2348174090052)
•    Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah (+2348035090548)
•    Barr Chinwe Umeche (+2347013238673)
•    Comrade Nelson Nnana Nwafor (+2348033383708)
•    Jerry Chidozie Chukwuokoro, PhD (+2348035372962)
•    Mazi Tochukwu Ezeoke (UK-+447748612933)