Family Protests Pregnant Woman’s Detention in Rivers State Over Missing Pumping Machine
The Family of Mrs. Mercy Elvis, a gardener employed by a former prominent female figure within the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, has raised concerns regarding the alleged intimidation and ongoing detainment of their relative by local law enforcement.
Elvis’ family contends that she finds herself incarcerated due to her connection with a missing water pumping machine, which reportedly vanished from the premises of the Olu Obasanjo Police Division. This detention, they claim, comes at the behest of the APC official who was Mrs. Elvis’ employer.
In a conversation with Sunday PUNCH in Port Harcourt on Saturday, the victim’s elder brother, Mr. Samuel Aru, revealed that his sister was taken into custody in connection with the missing water pump on a Thursday. When he attempted to secure her release at the police station, he was informed by the Investigating Police Officer that their hands were tied, as the employer had allegedly instructed them not to grant bail until Mrs. Elvis paid the sum of N120,000, equivalent to the cost of the missing equipment.
Mr. Aru expressed astonishment at the notion that a trained police officer would comply with such directives from a complainant, neglecting the principles of professionalism that should guide their duty. He further disclosed that his sister was in poor health, emphasizing that she was pregnant and had not been able to access her necessary medication since her arrest.
Reacting to this arrest, Mrs. Jane James, an attorney and a member of the Human Rights Committee within the Nigeria Bar Association, condemned the police’s actions as an infringement on established legal procedures. She pointed out that a suspect should typically be brought before a court within 24 hours of arrest, and if no local court is available, they should be presented to a competent court within 48 hours. She stressed the significance of adhering to the constitutional principle that individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and expressed her concerns over the alleged collaboration between a police officer and a complainant in this case.
In response to inquiries, the state police spokesperson, Grace Iringe, relayed information received from the DPO (Divisional Police Officer) of the station in question. According to the DPO, the pregnant woman had indeed been granted bail, but her release had been hindered by the absence of a suitable surety to facilitate the process.
This incident raises questions regarding the relationship between law enforcement and complainants, as well as the need for strict adherence to legal procedures in the handling of suspects.