Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Human Rights Lawyer - Falana Wants Police To Stop Parading Suspects In Public

Mr. Femi Falana
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has described as illegal the popular tradition of the Nigeria Police whereby suspected armed robbers, kidnappers and other alleged criminals are paraded in public or before the press prior to charging them to court.

Falana argued that such public parade of suspected criminals were not only prejudicial but also offensive to the constitutional provision which stated that a suspect was to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise before a competent court of law.

He said that journalists who honour an invitation by the police to cover a public parade of suspected criminal were just as complicit as the police in perpetrating what he described as “overzealous, irresponsible and illegal parade of suspects.”

Falana said he had noted that most of the suspects were usually tortured or cajoled by the police to make incriminating confessions prior to being paraded before the press.

He said he had also noted that after such public parade, the cases of the suspected criminals were often never heard again, because the police allegedly kill them in detention extra-judicially.

The human rights lawyer, who spoke to journalists in Lagos on Tuesday, therefore, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, to “issue a stern directive to all law enforcement agencies to desist from illegal parade and extra-judicial killing of suspects without trial.”

Falana said, “In spite of the presumption of innocence, which inures in favour of criminal suspects by virtue of Section 36 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act, the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria have continued to expose accused persons to media trial before arraigning them in courts.

“By subjecting suspects to media trial before arraignment in a criminal court, their fundamental rights to fair hearing and the dignity of their persons are infringed upon.”

Falana said that he had observed that only the poor people were paraded by the police while members of the elite class accused of criminal offences were never paraded. According to him, this disparity is a confirmation that public parade of suspects is an inhuman act meant to oppress the poor, who do not have the wherewithal to challenge the police in court.

“Apart from exposing the country to unwarranted ridicule before the international community, the Federal Government has continued to waste scarce resources on payments of judgment debts for criminal actions of some lawless enforcement officers,” he said.

Punch Newspaper