Nigeria

Femi Falana commends Lagos Assembly for outlawing media parade of suspects

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana

Human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has commended the Lagos State House of Assembly for unanimously passing an amended version of the Criminal Justice Law of the state barring the police from henceforth parading suspects before the media.

He also urged the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to speedily assent to the bill.

In a signed statement issued yesterday, the senior lawyer particularly singled out Section 9(A) of the newly passed bill which states that: “As from the commencement of this law, the police shall refrain from parading any suspect before the media,” for commendation.

According to him, the bill has adopted the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 on the humane treatment of criminal suspects, and has also outlawed the discriminatory and illegal parade of criminal suspects by law enforcement officers in the State.

Falana said the practice of parading suspects was illegal, as it constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental rights of criminal suspects to presumption of innocence guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

He also noted that the act of parading suspects was equally discriminatory as only lowly placed criminal suspects are exposed to media parades by the police and other law enforcement agencies.

“For instance, while poor suspects are paraded for allegedly stealing tubers of yam or telephone handsets valued at N10,000 or less, politically exposed persons accused of looting the public treasury to the tune of N10 billion or more are never paraded before the media.”

Falana said even though the incriminating statements procured from criminal suspects during media parade are not admissible during trial in criminal courts, they are used by law enforcement agencies to compel members of the public to participate in mob justice.

He said they were also used to blackmail Judges to convict criminal suspects, with or without evidence adduced by the prosecution.

“But for the culture of impunity, which permeates the entire society the illegal policy would have been stopped as the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States and Nigerian Courts have repeatedly condemned the media parade of criminal suspects by the police and other law enforcement agencies.”

He concluded that it was indisputable that the Bill was in line with the terms of the judgments of regional and municipal courts while also urging the state governor, Sanwo-Olu to assent the bill without delay.

“In view of the clear and unambiguous provisions of the Constitution and the African Charter and having regard to the aforementioned judicial authorities we are compelled to urge the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to assent to the Bill without any delay.”

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