On Tuesday, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu eventually met with the police investigative team at the Nigeria Police Force headquarters, Abuja over his alleged comment made at conference of the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents in Abuja on 5 March 2012 on extra-judicial killings in Nigeria.
However, contrary to expectation that the interaction would be an exploit to harass the NHRC boss, the police said it was meant to interact with Odinkalu and how to proffer solutions on how to move the force forward.
At noon that day, Mrs Maryam Uwais and Mr. Bamidele Aturu, counsel, accompanied Odinkalu, to the police headquarters where encounter took place in the office of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police responsible for Force Criminal Investigation Department (DIG-FCID).
The Police team initially included a Commissioner of Police; a Deputy Commissioner of Police and an Assistant Commissioner of Police, which later joined by the Commissioner of Police responsible for Legal Affairs (CP-Legal) and the Deputy Commissioner of Police for INTERPOL.
The Police team had requested that they meet with Dr. Odinkalu alone at the meeting which began about 12.15, asking both counsel to excuse them from the meeting. This led to some arguments as to the propriety and constitutionality of such request.
The police claimed this to be their standard practice; counsel argued that it was patently unconstitutional. The police explained the purpose of the encounter and said they desired “an interaction” with the Chairman of the NCHR over remarks he made at conference of the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents in Abuja on 5 March 2012. They said it would be friendly and promised that they had no intention of detaining Dr. Odinkalu.
At this point his lawyers stepped out about 13:15 hours while the encounter continued between Dr. Odinkalu and the police team. However, they were recalled into the meeting at 2.40pm, to find that the Police Team had requested him to write a statement, after Odinkalu gave them all the documents indicating that the contents of his presentation (including the estimates) were derived from material provided mostly from official government sources, including reports of three successive Presidential Commissions and reports attributed to four successive Inspectors-General of Police.
Dr. Odinkalu had requested to know if he was being charged with an offence in his personal capacity or if he was being asked to write the statement in his capacity as Chair of the NHRC. He stated quite clearly that, as Chair of the NHRC, he would not write any statement as that would amount to desecrating that exalted office. But if they felt the need to charge him as an individual, they should inform him of the charges against him.
He reminded them that the letter earlier written by him to the IG, (copy of which had been submitted to the team, along with other documents) already provided the information they required.