The news of the arrest of nine persons in connection with the vicious attack on March 31 at the Isuofia Civic Centre in Aguata Local Government Area on Professor Chukwuma Soludo, erstwhile Central Bank of Nigeria Governor and a leading aspirant in the forthcoming primary election of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as Anambra State prepares to hold a gubernatorial vote on November 6, has gone down well with every Nigerian. The news of the arrests was broken on Wednesday, April 21, to a large cheering gathering at Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, by Governor Willie Obiano. The nine persons were arrested at different times and in various locations by a combined team of security operatives from the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.
News reports on the revelation have tended to create the impression that the governor is enthusiastic to punish the arrested persons, even if it means making them pay the supreme price for not just the attack on the internationally recognized economist and brilliant reformer but also the murder in cold blood of three policemen providing security at the venue of Professor Soludo’s interaction with the youth of his hometown.
The reports are not accurate. Governor Obiano spoke about his readiness to make those involved in the heartless attack feel the full weight of the law against the background of the fact that since his assumption of office in March, 2014, he has not signed the death warrant of any convicted person, regardless of the offence committed by the villain.
The governor said that he would this time not mind signing the death warrant of each person found guilty of participating in any way in the gratuitous attack on Soludo. The decision to make Soludo attackers feel the full weight of the law is in line with the state administration’s policy that any person who sheds the blood of any Anambra person will be fished out, tried in the appropriate Court of Law and punished accordingly if found guilty. Life is sacred, and anyone who violates this age-old principle of the Igbo people will have himself or herself to blame.
Due process has always been followed as an article of faith in the last seven years in Anambra State in accordance with the democratic tradition. Only the courts of the land can legitimately pronounce a person guilty of a crime. Such a person can be punished after the verdict. Governor Obiano, on coming to office in 2014, stopped such reckless official practices as arbitrary and extra judicial killing of young people, as the world saw in the case of the bodies of over 100 young persons discovered one morning floating on the Ezu River in Awka North Local Government Area in January, 2013.
Anambra State has remained exemplary throughout the country in not just the practice of democracy but also upholding the dignity of the human person and due process. It will continue to uphold this excellent record in all circumstances, including in the determination to make it remain the safest and most peaceful state in Nigeria.
•C. Don Adinuba is Anambra State Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.