Hope Uzodinma, the Imo State governor, has signed into law the state Administration Of Criminal Justice Law No 2 of 2020, (ISACJL, 2020), which empowers him to arrest and detain any resident of the state at will for as long as he wishes.
According to the new law, any person detained on the orders of the governor, can only be released when he grants a license to the said individual.
Section 484 of the Law provides that “where any person is ordered to be detained during the Governor’s pleasure he shall notwithstanding anything in this Law or in any other written law contained be liable to be detained in such place and under such conditions as the Governor may direct and whilst so detained shall be deemed to be in legal custody”.
Also, the law abolished all forms of preliminary inquiry or preliminary investigation into a criminal charge by a magistrate or any court in the state, and replaced them with preparation of proof of evidence.
Section 485 of the ISACJL, 2020, provides that:
(1) A person detained during the Governor’s pleasure may at any time be discharged by the Governor on license which said license may be in such form and in such conditions as the governor may direct under section 485(2).
(2) A license under subsection (1) of this section may be in such form and may contain such conditions as the Governor may direct.
(3) A license under this section may at anytime be revoked or varied by the Governor and where license has been revoked the person to whom the license relates shall proceed to such place as the Governor may direct and if he fails to do so, may be arrested without warrant and taken to such place.
However, controversies have trailed the legality of the provisions, relating to “pleasure”, permitting the state governor to detain persons at his will.