Backs Recovery Of Easternpalm University

Contrary to assumptions by some members of the public and insinuations from a section of the media, and several interest groups the Imo State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Hon (Sir) C.O.C Akaolisa has stated categorically that no law empowers the governor to detain any Imo citizen perpetually or indefinitely.

 He explained what the new Imo law means by the phrase “at the pleasure of the governor” which some persons are using to paint the Governor bad and twisting the provision of the law for selfish considerations.

Akaolish in a press statement issued in Owerri yesterday, explained the term “at the pleasure of the governor” as provided in a section of the law which he said is self explanatory and had been in vogue hence he urged Imo people to disregard the call by some misguided persons to amend that section of the law which tends to serve the purpose of protecting juveniles and mentally challenged persons who should be detained at the pleasure of the governor. 

The commissioner’s statement reads in part, “Section 484 of the Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law is a reproduction of Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Law which has been in existence for years. It is not a new enactment. The law itself is procedural and not substantive. The substantive provision that gives the Governor the power to detain at his pleasure, Juvenile or People of Unsound Mind is in the Criminal Code Law.

The section only gives direction in respect of Section 230, 235, 328 and 368 of the C.P.A. These provisions apply when a person is acquitted on the grounds of insanity (Sec. 230) or cannot understand the proceeding though not insane (Sec. 328) or an offender has not attained the age of 17 or 18 years at the time he is found guilty of Capital Offence (Juvenile Offenders). Section 29(3) 39, 319 of the Criminal Code.

Such persons are detained at the pleasure of the Governor by these provisions of the Criminal Code. The Section484 does not give the Governor the power to detain any person Guobadia V State (2004) 6 NWLR (PT.869) 360. That Section started by stating thus; “when any person is ordered to be detained”.

He stated that the order must be the order made by a Court. The Governor’s power under that section is to determine where and how the person shall be kept. See Sec. 483, 484 and 485 of Imo State ACJL which only provides the procedure and place of detention (as existed under the Criminal Procedure Law). Other States of the Federation have similar provisions. In the Federal Act, the Power is vested on the Attorney General of the Federation. Under Section 438 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.’

He observed that the power was exercised during the “OTOKOTO” Trial when one of the convicts, a Juvenile was held at the pleasure of the Governor. The Federal Attorney General recently wrote to request the statistics on the place of holding or detention of juveniles in Imo and the “Correctional Centre Officials” have sent to me the list of juveniles being held at the Correctional Centres because past Governors did not exercise their right to hold them in bostal centers or reformatory homes as against the conventional correctional Centers where they might be corrupted to turn to hardened criminals.

“It is now clear that the opposition and some mischievous elements who should know better are painting the Governor bad for provisions that did not give the Governor the right to detain any person. They are twisting the provisions for their selfish considerations.

Imo citizens should disregard that, and there is no need to amend that section of our law which serves the purpose of protecting the juveniles and mentally challenged persons who should be detained at the pleasure of the Governor.

It is also shocking to me for any member of the Imo State House of Assembly to deny that Section 484 was in the draft bill. The draft bill was sent by the House of Assembly to the former Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Pascal Nnadi and he set up a Committee headed by Justice K.K. Orjiakor and other sound legal minds in Imo State who critically appraised the bill and came up with the final draft.

This final draft bill was brought to the Attorney General’s Office and we critically vetted the bill as presented to us by the Clerk of the House before it was finally passed and assented to by the governor. Why an Honourable Member will state that Section 484 was not in the draft bill is surprising to me”, he claimed.

Finally he explained “we should not amend a Jaw merely because of insinuations orchestrated by political propaganda”.

In the course the interaction with Sir Akaolisa who acknowledged that the Eastern Palm University was built with public funds he explained that contrary to some notions, Imo government has not abandoned the university or ceded it to senator Okorocha”, he said, “rather the committee set up by the former administration has completed its investigation and as a government we will release the white paper on the subject matter”, re-iterating that “in due time we will take a stand”,he disclosed that a whole lot of people have been calling expressing worries and concern over the alleged conversation of the tertiary institution into a private university.

The commissioner gave an assurance to Imolites that as long as Imo remains as a state and he remains as the Attorney General, the institution (Eastern Palm University) will be recovered and Okorocha will not go with the university.