Renowned human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has frowned at 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, who made the call at a press conference in his office, condemned the parade of suspects by the police, describing the act as illegal because it breaches the constitutional right of the person or party arrested.According to him, since suspects are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, their parade also contravenes Section 35 of the Constitution which guarantees the dignity of their persons.The senior advocate called on the Inspector General of Police (IG), Suleiman Abba, to issue a stern warning to all law enforcement agencies to desist from the illegal parade and the extra-judicial killing of criminal suspects without trial. “Apart from exposing the country to unwarranted ridicule before the international community, the federal government has continued to waste scarce resources on the payment of judgment debts for criminal actions of some lawless law enforcement officials.“We call on Nigerians to report cases of extra-judicial killing of criminal suspects and other innocent people by law enforcement personnel and private individuals”, he stated.
Falana claimed that no fewer than 527 suspects were arrested and paraded by the police across the country in 2014 alone. He, however, challenged the police to declare the courts where the suspects are being tried.While not supporting armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of criminality, Falana urged the police to do the needful by taking the suspects to court and not parade them illegally.The senior lawyer pointed out that illegal parade and extra-judicial killing of criminal suspects by law enforcement officials and incessant killing of innocent people through “accidental discharge” of firearms had encouraged and continue to encourage members of the public too to resort to illegal arrest and brutal killing of criminal suspects through jungle justice.Two years ago, four students of the University of Port Harcourt were alleged to have stolen a laptop and a handset in a village in Rivers State. They were arrested by some members of the public who stripped them naked, paraded them before a crowd and set fire on them on the basis of an unsubstantiated allegation of stealing,” he lamented.