By Frank Oshanugor
The Lagos State House of Assembly has passed an amended version of the Criminal Justice Law of the state barring the Nigeria Police Force from parading suspects before the media in the state.
The bill was passed on Monday at a sitting presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, on behalf of the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa.
The Lagos State Police Command had paraded many suspects yet to be pronounced guilty by a competent court of law. The latest being the parade of 49 suspects arrested during a Yoruba nation rally at Gani Fawehimi Freedom Park, in the Ojota area of Lagos on Saturday. A 21-year-old murder suspect and undergraduate of the University of Lagos, Chidinma Ojukwu, was also paraded by the police on June 24, 2021.
But Section 9 (A) of the newly passed bill stated thus, “As from the commencement of this law, the police shall refrain from parading any suspect before the media.”
The bill further stipulated conditions under which a policeman can arrest without a warrant. One of the conditions is that a person must be reasonably suspected to be unlawfully in possession of firearms or other such dangerous instruments.
A sub-section of the bill also barred the police or any other agency from arresting a person “in lieu of any other person in a criminal matter”.
The bill added that a person who is arrested “shall be given reasonable facilities for obtaining legal advice, bail or making arrangements for defence or release”.
The bill stipulated that a suspect should be “accorded humane treatment, with the right to dignity of person; not be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; be brought before the court as prescribed by this law or any other written law; or be released conditionally or unconditionally”.
After a voice vote, the Deputy Speaker directed the acting Clerk of the House, Olalekan Onafeko, to transmit the bill to the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for assent.