The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, has called on the Nigerian police and the attorney general of every state to charge arrested defaulters of curfew to court or release them.

He said this through his social media handle condemning the destruction of public and private properties while stating that the cure for illegality can not be illegality.

Olumide reminded the attorney and the police that the constitution states that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty so prohibits detention of suspects more than 48 hours while forbidden any form of torture on suspects.

Read his post below;

“I have in the past 24 hours received several calls & complaints from lawyers and Nigerians generally about the recent public parade of hundreds of persons arrested and detained by the Nigerian Police on the suspicion of taking part in the looting and destruction of public buildings and private businesses and/or for contravening the curfew declared by various State Governors in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests that unfortunately turned violent.

As I have continuously maintained, the @NigBarAssoc is completely opposed to any act of arson, vandalism, destruction of public or private assets or other forms of force or violence. However, the legal rights of citizens who are arrested on account of such allegations must be respected, especially their right to presumption of innocence.

In many, if not most of these cases, these people, who are first & foremost Nigerian citizens, have been held incommunicado for days without access to their families or their legal practitioners and under inhumane or deplorable conditions in brazen breach of the Constitution.

The Constitution presumes all suspects and defendants as innocent until proven guilty; prohibits the detention of citizens beyond 24-48 hours; and forbids the subjection of Nigerian citizens to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.

Above all, the Constitution mandates the Police and other law enforcement agencies to bring such persons to court within 24-48 hours depending on the location of the court nearest to the Police station. It beggars belief that this conduct by men of @PoliceNG is coming on the heels of the #EndSARS protests, which were precipitated by the historical abuse of citizens by Police officers especially those of the now defunct SARS, and the aftermath of which is yet to fully settle.

It is highly regrettable that the Police in particular continues to carry on business as usual despite being in the eye of the storm in recent times and in disregard of the wide outpouring of condemnation by Nigerians at home and abroad as well as foreign nationals and international organisations about the misconduct of some of their officers. This gives the indication that the Police hierarchy has failed to get the message and/or is paying lip service to the calls for holistic Police reforms.

The NBA once again calls on the Nigerian Police and the Attorneys General of the various States to immediately charge the suspects before courts of competent jurisdiction in accordance with contemporary requirements of the law or release them unconditionally.

The wanton destructive of public buildings and private businesses witnessed in the past week is highly regrettable. However, the cure for illegality cannot be illegality.

I have asked Chairpersons of NBA Branches across the country to immediately monitor Police Stations within their jurisdictions to ascertain the extent of compliance of the Police with the fundamental rights provisions to enable us take or facilitate adequate enforcement actions.”

Watch the video here…

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