A month after gospel singer’s death, police stall as prime suspect languishes in custody – The Whistler Nigeria
It has been a month since gospel singer Osinachi Nwachukwu died as a result of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, Peter Nwachukwu, who was arrested on April 10.
Osinachi’s sudden death caused public outcry, with some claiming she suffered from throat cancer while close family and church members claimed she was a victim of the brutality of her husband. This prompted a request for an autopsy which was carried out on April 15.
The result of the examination appeared 12 days later and was handed over to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice.
However, since then, the DPP has yet to make any public statement, a situation many now see as a delay in justice for Osinachi’s family and her widower, who was the prime suspect.
Nwachukwu was taken into custody after a family member of the deceased filed a petition with the FCT Police Command alleging culpable homicide.
The suspect was arrested and then transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for proper investigation.
Police Inspector General Alkali Usman Baba, while parading Nwachukwu through his office recently, said the autopsy result would determine the direction of the prosecution.
But the question remains, why did the police refuse to make the autopsy public? Why do they still keep the suspect in detention without charging him in court?
What the law says
The Constitution of Nigeria, in Article 35 (1), states: “Everyone has the right to his personal liberty and no one shall be deprived of such liberty except in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure authorized by law” – as stated in Section 35(c), “For the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of a court order or on reasonable suspicion that he has committed a criminal offence, or to the extent reasonably necessary to prevent him from committing a criminal offence.
Speaking to THE WHISTLER, a lawyer, Nelson Ilebor Kebordih, said “indeed session 35 of the constitution provides that everyone has the right to personal liberty, but that right to liberty may be restricted under the provision of paragraph (c) of paragraph (1) “, as indicated above.
He noted that notwithstanding the provision of Article 35(4) that an arrested person must be brought before the court within a reasonable time. In the case of Osinachi’s death, where the husband is being investigated for a capital offense of culpable homicide, Section 35(7) provides that the suspect should be detained on such reasonable suspicion.
Why the police are delaying prosecution
Speaking further, Kebordih provided reasons why police would not be in a rush to make their findings public or rush the suspect to court.
He said: ‘What Osinachi’s husband is facing is murder or manslaughter because the conversation is that she died from an act of domestic violence so you see there is a reasonable grounds to suspect that the man was the cause of the woman’s death. So that automatically presumes that the man killed the woman, whether intentionally or not.
“So it’s not something that can be rushed, so assuming the autopsy finds something through the woman and there’s no evidence to show whether circumstantial or obvious that it’s is the result of that man’s act, the answer will always be that that man should go home.
“If the woman died from a severe blow, that’s not enough, you still have to show that even if she died from a blow to the face, you have to show a high level of thorough evidence that has some form of accuracy mathematics without leaving room for speculation or doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime for which he is being investigated.
“So forget the public outcry, if the DPP concludes that the autopsy report found that the woman had died of a blow that could be attributed to an act of domestic violence, there is still corroborating evidence that the DPP must obtain before to be able to lodge a complaint.
“And that’s the challenge, that’s why the investigation process can’t be made available to the public. So, gathering evidence, talking to people with a verifiable substantial claim is relevant, and for a high-profile case like this, the DPP and other collaborating security agencies need to find very compelling ground to proceed because any small doubt about the case and it will go in favor of the accused.
“The DPP will also prove that yes, someone had died, and she died by the act of the person on trial, and it was the act that led to the death of the deceased intentionally by certain activities that he knew that death was the possible consequence.”
FCT Police Command Says No Longer Involved
Meanwhile, the FCT Police Command has asked Nigerians to be patient as the investigation is ongoing, even though it said it was not responsible for the delay in the process.
The command, while answering questions from reporters on Thursday, said the police were not the only investigative and prosecuting agency involved in the case.
The police public relations office said: “A suspect may be taken into custody pending the conclusion of a DPP investigation; A person can be temporarily detained even for a case where the police did not investigate or prosecute, terms and conditions apply. So the fact that he is in custody does not mean that the case is still in the hands of the police”.
The command further noted that it was important to give prosecutors the opportunity to do their job, adding, “There will be no success story to write about if we don’t hesitate to restrict ourselves in the manner in which we disclose the facts of a matter under investigation”.