A Lagos-based lawyer has condemned parading of arrested suspects by the police, saying it is unconstitutional and damaging to the person involved.
According to the lawyer, those often paraded were innocent and in the event of their being pronounced innocent by the courts of competent jurisdiction, the police never re-parade them.
Mr Olawale Apanisile, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that parading suspects undergoing
investigation was illegal and could not be justified.
Apanisile said that parading suspects before the public and media as criminals was damaging to the reputation and personality of the individual.
He said that it was a violation of Section 34 (1) and 36 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
According to Apanisile, Section 34 states that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and (1) (a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.
“In a bid to show to the public that the police are working and are up to the task of safeguarding the country, they display suspects like medals and trophies to the media,’’ he said.
The lawyer said that during arrest, investigation and arraignment, the accused should be treated with respect as they were presumed innocent until proven guilty.
He said; “The police and other law enforcement agents should treat an accused the same way they will treat any other law abiding citizens.
“Most Nigerians do not know their fundamental human rights, but if the police had been slammed with law suits by paraded suspects, then such impunity will not be the order of day.
“Some who know their rights are too scared to press charges,’’.
He urged human rights activists to educate and come to the aid of the populace to put an end to the practice of media trial by the police.
Another lawyer, Mr Alozie Nwoke said: “The police are usually under pressure to clean up their image before the public and the Federal Government has given rise to this kind of practice.
“Owing to the pressure, suspects are often paraded so as to show that the police are working.
“The police then get some kind of approval that they are doing well but most times they parade innocent persons.
“Our law provides that every suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction’’.
The legal practitioners decried the act, saying that should the suspects be acquitted, the police would not re-parade them as being innocent.