Chinwetalu Agu And Nigerian Army By Vincent Nnebedum Esq.


By Vincent Nnebedum Esq.

Few days back the veteran actor Chinwetalu Agu, who is well known to have carved a niche for himself as a result of his comic and funny sayings in the nollywood movies he features, was recently arrested by the Nigerian Army operatives and DSS respectively, because he was seen wearing an outfit that has a symbol of the rising sun on it.

 This calls for pertinent legal issues I wish to address here.

1) Whether the Nigerian Army had the power to arrest him?

2) Whether the veteran actor's fundamental human right was breached?

3) Whether he committed any offence known to Law?


Whether the Nigerian Army had power to arrest him?

It is a trite principle of law that the power of arrest in the Nigerian Legal system is an exclusive right of the Judicial Officers, Nigerian Police force and Private persons respectively.  See sections 4 of the Police Act and 23 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act 2015 respectively. 

In fact the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which is equally the grund norm of  our Legal Institutions in Nigeria is explicit with the duties of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the particular function it accorded the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force is basically spelt out in Section 217 (1), (2) paragraphs  a, b, c and d.  The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in no way gave the Nigerian Military force the power to make arrest , therefore the arrest carried out by the Military boys was in it's entirety totally wrong!

  What could they have done?

 The Nigerian Army could have alerted the Police Division in which the veteran actor was spotted, to make the so called arrest and which could have been done in no way that disregards the dignity of his human person as enshrined in section 34 of the CFRN 1999 (as amended).


It is my humble opinion that the Federal Government should respect the sanctity of our constitution and minimize the way it makes use of the Nigerian Army as seen in other western jurisdictions, whereby the Military Force is only beckoned on when there is a threat to the territorial integrity of the Country. So matters that are issues of internal concern shall be left exclusively for the Nigerian Police Force to handle.


Whether the Veteran actor's fundamental Human Rights was breached?

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) uniquely dedicated the whole of Chapter four to Fundamental Human Rights. It is assertive to say that these rights predates even the political Society. See Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) 4 NWLR ( pt 116 ) in that case, If they are not sacrosanct,  then someone should tell me the reason why it was included in a very respectful statute like the Constitution by our Law makers?

Furthermore, section 39 of the CFRN 1999 (as amended) established the freedom of expression. It in simple terms states that we are all entitled to hold our different opinions as human beings and equally free to express the said opinions. Even though some may want to argue that section 45 of the same Constitution placed limitations on how the freedom should be expressed, and that the attire worn by the veteran actor was an expression by conduct, it is important to note that the ornament was just a fashion design and the veteran actor was not caught inciting the public or campaigning for secession.  In fact he was sharing loaves of bread to the less privileged which is a charity work and should be commended. 


It is my humble opinion that the veteran actor should proceed to our courts to enforce his Fundamental Human Rights, that was blatantly breached by the wrongful arrest by the Nigerian Army. see Section 46(1)  of the CFRN (1999) as amended with particular reference to the words,  "has been, is being or likely to be breached "for proper clarification for the unlawful arrest and detention, which contravened his right to freedom of movement for the said period of time he was in the military custody.

The Late Honourable Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, as he then was, propounded the Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 which he gave equal force as the CFRN. A clear view at the preamble has a lot to say about the frep Rules.  Therefore any person who alleges that his/her fundamental Human Rights was breached  (has a cause of action) can come under the rules and relying majorly on Order 2 rule 1 can establish his or her claim.


Whether the veteran actor committed any offence known to Law?

It is my humble view that the veteran actor did not commit any offence known to law, see section 36(12) CFRN 1999 ( as amended) by merely putting on an apparel with different shades of colour and a symbol of the rising sun. Let's assume that some persons might argue from the angle of section 5 of the of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) act 2013 that the attire of the veteran actor was indirectly inciting the support of a terrorist organisation, the actor or his advocates on the other hand can argue that the cloth was worn with no intention of doing such. In that section the use of the word "knowingly " implies that the offender must be aware of what he intends doing.  

Furthermore, should some persons equally want to argue that the ignorance of the law is not an excuse as enshrined in section 22 of the criminal code Act, lest not forget the other angel of the same provisions which make the offender liable if he has knowledge of the particular law as  knowledge is declared to be an element of the offence.

In summary, the actor can solely rely on the provisions of section 39 of the CFRN to assert that he merely liked the shades of colour and the inscription of the rising sun he was putting on, and as a fashionista he decided to showcase his fashion taste  to the public.

Many thanks to a renowned Nigerian lawyer and a Senior Advocate in the person of Chief Mike Ozhekome for his timeous  intervention and his activism in seeing that the embattled veteran actor was released from DSS custody. 

On this note I wish to drop my pen here.

Thanks for reading. 

@ sir_nnebedum_official

©️ Vincent Nnebedum Esq.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post