The parading of a suspect by men of the Nigerian Security Agencies has been a practice which has met several criticisms and have had justifications especially from the members of the security agencies. This practice is mostly perpetuated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
The parading of suspects is a practice by security agencies whereby crime suspects are made to hold placards showing their names and their alleged offences. During which pictures of them are being taken by men of the media and further displayed on the security agencies’ website, News channel and social media space(depending on the security agency involved).
This practice has been given justification especially by security agencies who are the perpetrators of the act. The justification given to it is that it creates the awareness of the performance of the security agencies. It shows the people that the security agency is working tirelessly to ensure maximum security. The Inspector General of Police in Nigeria, Ibrahim Idris gave justification to this practice via tweet saying; “is simply the Force letting the public know the efforts and achievements of the police in curbing and reducing crime to the barest minimum”. A former Commissioner of Police in Enugu justified the practice when he said that it helps create credibility for the police, assure the public that their job has been done and reduce tension in the society.
However, in the eyes of many this practice remains dehumanizing, ignominious and a contravention of the Law despite its justifications. Section 36(5) of the Nigerian Constitution states that “every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty”. Furthermore, this act remains inconsistent with the provisions of Article 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and People‘s Right which provides that:
“Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right. Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man, particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited”
In the light of the Law, legal practitioners have continued to advocate against this dehumanizing and illegal practice. The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar in 2011 awarded the sum of Twenty million Naira only (#20,000,000) as damages in favour of Ottoh Obono who was paraded by the police on suspicion of being a member of a gang of armed robbers and subsequently remanded pending the advice of the Directorate of Police Prosecution (DPP). But he was eventually declared innocent with no charges against him. But the damage to his reputation could not be undone. The court held that the act of parading him breached his fundamental right to presumption of innocence and dignity of human person entrenched in the Nigerian constitution and the African charter respectively.
The court also frowned at this practice in the case of Ndukwem Chiziri Nice v. Attorney General of the Federation by saying that the practice is “a callous disregard for the person of the suspect”.
Conclusively, it is glaring that the practice of parading of suspects lacks legal backing. The justifications given to it by security agencies who perpetuates the act is but an ungrounded excuse. As such, it is advised that any individual who is a victim of this dehumanizing practice should approach the court to seek remedy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raphael Mathew Umanah is a 300L law student of University of Uyo, Uyo where he’s currently serving as a Senator representing his faculty at the students Union Senate. He is a writer, leadership and public relation enthusiast. He can be reached via facebook and Linkin at Raphael Umanah.
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