The President of the Nigeria Bar Association NBA, Olumide Akpata, has said the arrest and detainment of suspected looters or curfew defaulters without their arraignment in court within the stipulated time by law, shows that the police hierarchy is yet to get the message of the recent #EndSARS protests or is an indication that they are only ”paying lip service to the demand for holistic police reform.”
Following the carnage that rocked many parts of the country last week, several state governments imposed curfew in their states. The police have since arrested some of the curfew defaulters as well as suspected looters.
On Friday October 23, the Lagos state police command paraded over 520 suspected looters and curfew defaulters. One of those paraded claimed she had been detained for 6 days and prevented from reaching out to her family.
In a statement released on Thursday night, October 29, Akpata condemned the act of the police, stressing that the suspects should be immediately charged to court as the law dictates or that they should be released. Read his statement 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 Nigeria 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 Nigeria 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 & 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.
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 Nigeria Police 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.”
Police re-arrest four prisoners who escaped from Edo prison
Four prisoners who escaped from Oko Prison during the #EndSARS crisis have been re-arrested by the police.
The suspects were paraded at the Nigeria Police Force tactical unit in Abuja, alongside others who were arrested for various offences bordering on armed robbery, car theft, unlawful possession of weapons, illegal dealing and selling of weapons.
The prisoners who escaped from the facility have been identified as Adebayo Opeyemi, Oloride Benjamin, Peter Osas, Hudu Musa and Frank Odion.
While Mr Opeyemi is a dismissed soldier, Mr Benjamin was convicted and sentenced to death and Mr Musa had nine months remaining to serve out his prison term.
It was gathered that the suspects have snatched a total of four vehicles since their escape. Mr Benjamin on the other hand, snatched a vehicle 30mins after he escaped because he needed to leave Benin City.
Northern Governors are not against disbandment of SARS – Governor Lalong
Governor Simon Lalong has made a clarification on the stance of Northern Governors on the disbandment of controversial police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Lalong who is the chairman of Northern Governors Forum on Wednesday November 18, said they are not against the scrapping of SARS contrary to some misconceptions in some quarters.
“The Northern Governors Forum is not against the disbandment of SARS as misconstrued in some quarters. We rather caution against the blanket condemnation of the police that can erode the confidence and zeal of the hardworking and honest ones in performing their duties of protecting lives and properties.”
Reiterating the region’s commitment in tackling the several challenges facing the region, Lalong said the forum will collaborate with Federal Government and security agencies to address the issues of banditry, terrorism, kidnapping, and other criminal activities.
“We must tackle the current challenges of insecurity in the region which is dominated by insurgency, kidnapping, banditry, rape, child abuse and trafficking and other conflicts.
“We shall continue to work with the Federal Government and security agencies to tackle crime and criminality. That is why we have supported a comprehensive reform of police architecture in the country.”
CNN releases findings from its independent investigation on Lekki shooting; shares videos of what appears to be soldiers shooting directly at the crowd
CNN has released its findings from an independent investigation carried out on the October 20 shooting incident at the Lekki tollgate.
CNN shared footage of what appears to be soldiers shooting at the #EndSARS protesters who had gathered at the tollgate to press home their demands to end SARS as well as end police brutality.
CNN in its investigation spoke with a man, Elisha Sunday, whose brother, Victor, was killed during the October 20th shooting incident.
The media house also spoke with some of the protesters who were at the scene when the shooting occurred. They claim the soldiers indeed fired shots at them.
The media house also tracked the bullets shells seen at the Toll Gate and the companies that supplied the Nigerian Army Weapons since 2005
Recall Nigeria drew global attention when military men stormed the Lekki toll plaza where #EndSARS protesters gathered and fired gunshots.
Shortly after the incident, Governor Sanwo-Olu in a press conference stated that no sitting governor controls the rules of engagement of the military. On October 26, the governor granted an interview to CNN where he stated that only two deaths were recorded from the incident. He added that he visited the scene the next day and couldn’t find bloodstains.
On the day of the incident, the Nigerian Army took to its Twitter handle to deny claims its personnel was at the scene of the incident.
On October 27, the Army broke its silence and alleged that the Lagos state governor invited them to help quell the violence that erupted after the protest was hijacked by hoodlums. Read here.
Watch the video from CNN’s independent investigation below