Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, has filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order to stop the pre-trial media parade of crime suspects by law enforcement agencies.
The Inspector-General of Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigerian Customs Service, and four others were joined as respondents in the suit.
The rest of the defendants are the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Navy, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Falana, through his lawyer, Mrs. Funmi Falana (SAN), filed the human rights enforcement suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/519/19, on May 16, 2019.
A lawyer in the legal team, Mr. Marshal Abubakar, told The Punch on Sunday that the suit had yet to be assigned to a judge.
Falana argued in his suit that the pre-trial media parade of criminal suspects was a violation of the suspects’ right to being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
He said this right was guaranteed under section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7(1) (b) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
He also argued that by virtue of sections 2 (1) and 2 (2) (b) of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 the pre-trial media parade, the pre-trial media parade of the suspects amounted to psychological and mental touture and other various forms of torture prohibited by the Act.
He, therefore, sought a declaration that the media parade, even criminal charges, filed against the suspects in courts of law amounted to prejudging them and violating their fundamental rights to presumption of innocence and against torture as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 and the Anti- Torture Act, 2017, respectively.
He also sought “a declaration that pre-trial media parade of criminal suspects by the respondents has been prohibited by Section 2(xi) of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017”.
He also sought “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents whether by themselves, their agents, privies and servants from further exposing criminal suspects to media parade in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.”