An Edo State Magistrate Court has struck out a charge against a Nigerian for riding a tricycle in a Government Reserved Area (GRA) and another charge against another person for videoing a police arrest.
The operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, New Etete Division on July 26, 2022, arrested one Brighton Odion, a tricycle rider who was riding along Limit Road, off Sapele Road in Benin City, where the riding of tricycles has been barred.
The police accused him of violating the governor’s order on riding in a restricted area and was subsequently charged to court when he refused to bribe them.
The police also arrested one Mr. Vision Nelson for taking pictures of Odion’s arrest.
He was charged alongside Odion for being an unregistered photographer and unlicensed journalist and for using his Android phone to record the arrest.
But delivering judgment on Thursday, the court ruled in favour of the accused and consequently struck out the charges against the duo.
The Chief Magistrate in Evbuoriaria Magistrate Court 5, Sapele Road, Benin City, held in his ruling in the case between NPF and EDOCSO that “videoing or recording in a public place is not an offence, citizens have rights to do recordings anywhere, anytime.”
The magistrate also held that there is no law in Edo State banning or restricting the movement of tricycles (keke) from major roads or streets. “Tricycles can move from one point to another without any form of restriction,” the court said.
The court in striking out the charges, held that the case lacks merit, adding that the police were unable to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge, therefore, ruled that the case should be struck out for lack of merit before the law.
The Edo Civil Society Organisations were represented by Bar. Dele Igbinedion’s chamber.
Reacting to the judgment in a statement issued on Friday, the Interim Public Relations Officer, EDOCSO, Leftist Aliyu Umweni, said justice can be delayed but can never be denied.
The group, however, called on the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force to ensure that those with requisite knowledge of both the Police Act and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and other relevant laws are deployed to man divisions.
“We want to use this medium to charge the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force to always do diligent work in putting only well-trained, educated and exposed personnel to head police formations in order to reduce similar embarrassment and ridicule to the force.
“It would appear the police just want to charge suspects to court for charging sake without minding the final implication of the outcome which are not limited to making a caricature of the force and emboldening criminals to challenge such charge in court and not to talk about the wastage of time, resources of the country for frivolous and unintelligent pursuit of a non-existent criminal case.
“If the institutions in Nigeria know what they are doing, the DPO or whoever charged this case to court would be reprimanded and possibly defaulted for dragging the police force into ridicule and shame.
“At any rate, the statement has been made loud and clear that the court is made for everyone to sue for justice and truth. We will continue to urge citizens to pursue matters in court. The day citizens will wake up and start suing intimidating and oppressive institutions in Nigeria, only then we will be on our way to total liberation from the internal feudal lords.
“Going forward, any more harassment of tricycle riders in Edo state by police officers would be seen as contempt of court and the appropriate steps will be taken on such officer(s).
“EDOCSO will ensure the full wrath of the law takes its course. Those that have heard this should inform those that have not.”