George Floyd’s Swift Justice Draws Attention To Nigeria’s Never-ending Criminal Trials

Mixed reactions have continued to trail the conviction of former Minneapolis Police officer, Derek Chauvin, over the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man.

On Tuesday, Chauvin was convicted on all counts in the death of Floyd, whose killing sparked worldwide protests and a bothering on racial discriminations in the United States.



After about a day of deliberations, the jury found Chauvin guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict at the heavily secured Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, where the trial began last month. A cheer could be heard from the crowd of peaceful protesters that had gathered outside.  

Cahill said sentencing will take place in about eight weeks. 

The issue has drawn commendations from several people, particularly the black community over the speedy administration of justice in the case.

The judgement comes less than a year after Floyd was killed. But the reverse is the case in Nigeria where criminals are kept in detention for years due to a wobbling justice system.

In the wake of Chauvin’s judgement, SaharaReporters examines some celebrated criminal cases pending in Nigeria, for which the accused persons have remained in detention for long without proper trial.

 

Wadume

On August 6, 2019, a kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) was arrested in Ibi, Taraba State, by members of the Intelligence Response Team of the IGP office following a tip-off.

The arrest had initially generated commendations but beyond the initial euphoria, nothing meaningful has been achieved in the trial.

The Nigerian Government arraigned Wadume and his co-defendants on June 8, 2020, on amended 13 counts of terrorism, kidnapping and other related offences.

The others are Aliyu Dadje (a police Inspector), Auwalu Bala (aka Omo Razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu) Bashir Waziri (aka Baba Runs), Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.

The trial judge, Binta Nyako, told all defendants who intended to file no-case submission to do so within 21 days.

Nyako adjourned the matter till May 18 for defendants to open their defence or file no-case submission.

The former Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had originally filed 16 counts of terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms running against Wadume and the others.

They were accused of conspiring to commit felony, to wit: acts of terrorism, by attacking and kidnapping one Usman Garba, aka Mayo, at his filling station in Takum, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013.

They were also accused of possessing six AK-47 rifles and dealing in prohibited firearms contrary to Section 27 (1)(a)(I) and (1)(b)(iii) of the Firearms Act 2004.

 

Evans

The story of Evans is similar to that of Wadume. Evans was arrested on June 10, 2017, at his Lagos home.

But four years after, justice seems far away for those who have come out to say they were victims of the suspected Nigerian kidnapper, whose real name is Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike.

The kidnapper faces multiple counts in three courts and five separate trials.

In a trial case in August 2020, Onwuamadike appeared with alleged accomplices Joseph Emeka, Chiemeka Arinze and Udeme Upong.

They have been charged with attempting to kidnap prominent Nigerian transporter, Vincent Obianodo; murder of his police aide and driver; attempted murder; conspiracy to commit a felony, namely kidnapping; and sale and transfer of firearms, according to the court registrar’s office. They have pleaded not guilty and the trial was postponed to September 17, 2020, after a day of witness cross-examination.

In a recent development, the absence of prosecution witnesses stalled the trials of alleged kidnap kingpin, Evans, which he is facing before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

When the second suit was announced, Bajulaiye-Bishi informed the court that the witness, Inspector Idowu Haruna, Investigating Police Officer, who was due to continue his testimony in the trial-within-trial was unavailable.

The prosecutor informed the court that the IPO was on an official assignment and that he will be “hopefully present” on the next court date.

The judge noted the slow pace of proceedings. She said that the two cases before her had commenced since 2017.

“This case (the Obianodo kidnap trial) is for the continuation of the trial-within-trial. It appears the prosecution is not ready with their witness.

“The court grants the prosecution the last chance to put its house in order.

“Both cases are adjourned until April 5 for the continuation of hearing,” she said.

Apart from these, there are many criminal cases in courts across the country without any headway or hope that they will be concluded soon enough, to give justice to victims.

Many victims of police brutality have all lost hope of ever getting justice as they have been frustrated by the wheel of justice, that is often so slow in Nigeria such that it hardly ever gets to its destination in the lifetime of the victim or their loved ones.

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