NBA opposes police parade of people arrested for #EndSARS protests, carting away palliatives, others

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on Thursday, kicked against what it called parade of hundreds of persons arrested and detained by the police on the suspicion of taking part in the looting of warehouses and carting away palliatives inside them.

President of the NBA, Mr Olumide Akpata, who said this in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle, said he had received several calls from many eminent lawyers and other Nigerians following the parade of many people who carted away the palliatives that were kept in some warehouses.

Many citizens in the last one week have invaded some warehouses belonging to the governments and private individuals, going away with foods and other goods which were supposed to be distributed to vulnerable people but were kept in the warehouses.

The NBA president said in his series of tweets: “I have in the past 24 hours received several calls and complaints from lawyers and Nigerians generally about the recent public parade of hundreds of persons arrested and detained by the
@PoliceNG on the suspicion of taking part in the looting and destruction of public buildings.

“They were also arrested 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 Nigerian Bar Association 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 and 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.”

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