Femi Falana

A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and other soldiers, who took part in the violent attack and arson in Zaria, Kaduna State, in which scores of members of the Shi’ite movement were killed, were prosecuted.

Falana, in a statement titled, ‘Armed soldiers who attacked Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaki should be prosecuted,’ also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to allow detainees arrested with respect to the December 13 clash between the army and the Shi’ites have access to their family members, doctors and lawyers.

The lawyer reminded the police and the Army authorities that in the 1996 case between the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi and the late Gen. Sani Abacha, the Court of Appeal had ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police and the operatives of the Department of State Services to allow the late Fawehinmi’s wife and personal physicians to have access to him in prison “at all reasonable times.”

Falana said, “It is pertinent to remind the army and police authorities that even under a repressive military junta, the right of access to detainees was fought and won in Nigeria. Thus, in Chief Gani Fawehinmi vs General Sani Abacha (1996) 5 NWLR (PT 447) 198 at 202, the Court of Appeal ordered the Attorney-General of Federation, Inspector-General of Police and the operatives of the State Security Services to allow the wife and personal physicians of the appellant, a political detainee, to have access to him in prison custody ‘at all reasonable times.’

“In requesting the Inspector-General of Police to allow access to the detainees, his attention ought to be drawn to Section 14(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which provides as follows:

“A person who has the custody of an arrested suspect shall give the suspect reasonable facilities for obtaining legal advice, access to communication for taking steps to furnish bail, and otherwise making arrangements for his defence or release.

“In the light of the foregoing, we urge the police boss to allow the detainees access to their family members, personal physicians and legal practitioners at all reasonable times. Having undertaken to end impunity in the country, President Buhari should ensure that the Chief of Army Staff and all the soldiers who took part in the violent attack and arson in Zaria are brought to book without any further delay.”

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