Re: Section 484 of The Imo State ACJL- Much Ado About Nothing

By Bertram Faotu

There is absolutely NOTHING new about the said 484. It is simply a reproduction of Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Law which has been in existence for ages. The only difference is the substitution of the word “President” with “Governor”.

The said Section only gives directions in respect of Sections 230, 235, 328 and 368 of the said C.P.A. These provisions apply when a person is acquitted on the grounds of insanity (Section 230) or cannot understand the proceedings though not insane (Section 328) or an offender has not attained the age of 17 or 18 years (as the case may be) at the time he is found guilty of capital offense.

Some states or region’s laws provided that in such circumstances, the accused person may be detained at the governor’s pleasure or the president’s pleasure. We were all taught about this in Law School. At least I was taught then or remember reading about it then.

I am quite amazed at the outcry by lawyers, some seasoned, including a professor of law, who are shouting (making a great hue) as if the said provision was being heard for the first time in our jurisprudence. Assuming but not conceding that it was even new, I would still be surprised at the amount of noise it has generated, knowing that all lawyers are aware that it is only a procedural law. No part of the said law states that the governor shall have the power to detain any person. It starts by saying “when any person is ordered to be detained…”

That clearly and without any ambiguity implies that there must firstly have been an order for a person to be detained before the governor can apply the provisions of the said Section 484 of the Imo State ACJA.

Nowhere in the said law is it written that the governor can wake up and simply order that somebody be detained at his pleasure. Let us read properly before we criticize.

Bertram Faotu is the Chairman, NBA Aba Branch.

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