Angst at the weekend trailed a verdict by an Ekiti State Customary Court, Ikere, remanding in custody an octogenarian woman, Madam Rachel Akeregun over an offence allegedly committed by one of her sons.
Following this development another son of the embattled 80 year-old woman, has instituted a legal action against what he described as unlawful detention and threat to the life of his mother. Joined in the suit are the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in-charge of the Divisional Police Headquarters, Afao, Ikere-Ekiti, Mr. Ayinla Reuben and the customary court,
The victim’s children accused the President of the court, Mr. Kayode Kolawole, the court’s Registrar, Mrs. Awolope and the DPO of Afao Police station as accomplice to the unlawful arrest and detention of their mother while seeking redress for the unjust act.
According to them, the Customary Court erred in law by the arrest and detention of their defenceless 80-year-old mother without any charge preferred against her as the alleged offence by her son on which she was being detained, was a civil case involving Daisi Akeregun which had earlier been instituted against his wife.
A source revealed that “the complainant and his wife were engrossed in a divorce suit in a Customary Court sometimes in April but the lockdown prevented the court to sit.”
One of the children of the detained woman also explained that his brother, Daisi, had earlier told him that he received a telephone call on 27th July, 2020 from the court’s Registrar, Awolope that the case would come up for hearing the second day, July 28, adding that he must appear in court.
He said: “The complainant in addition, raised objection to the caller that the notice given to him was less than 12 hours, which he said was too short because he was out of Ikere Ekiti and that he was an apprentice with an alluminum company in Akure, pleading that the court should pick a convenient new date for both parties.”
Trouble, however, started when Daisi failed to appear in court, and the president of the Customary Court in collaboration with the Registrar allegedly ordered the arrest and detention of the accused mother.
The visibly angry son lamented that her mother was never a party to any civil suit whatsoever, adding that the old woman was not standing surety for either of the parties to the case.
His words: “She is a hypertensive patient with her medical report on hand and she was taken to the Correctional Centre, which I was made to understand was on the order of the President of the Customary Court. “What the court ought to have done was to serve a summons for the absentee to appear on another day.
“Their actions have never been part of the Constitution but maybe, the president of the court has his own disposition of the law that directed him to act contrary to what is obtainable in the Constitution.
“In the criminal code and the Nigeria’s Constitution, it is not in existence. Even in the administration of criminal justice, you cannot hold the third party for the offence being committed by another person.”
However, the detained octogenarian speaking with journalists expressed her displeasure about the development, calling on government to intervene in the case and ensure that everyone involved in her unlawful detention was adequately punished to serve as a deterrent to others for future reference.
She said: “I never stood surety for my son. So, I don’t know the reason why the President of the court and the Registrar should order my arrest. It is unfair to an old woman like me.”
The President of the Customary Court in Ikere, Mr. Kayode Kolawole, however, declined comment on the matter, saying he was not obliged to speak on the issue. He directed newsmen for inquiry on the matter to the Chief Judge who appointed him.
Also, at the Afao police station in Ikere Ekiti, an officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the case in question was a court order, adding that the station was not directly involved in the matter, saying the arrest and the release of the woman rested with the customary court.
Meanwhile, lawyer to the complainant in his letter to the Registrar of the Customary Court described the arrest and detention as “shocking, unconstitutional and callous. There is no reason whatsoever, that such an action should be taken against my client’s mother.”