Many Senior Police Officers Are Not Aware Of Law Provisions – Femi Falana (SAN).
Lagos______ Femi Falana (SAN), human rights activist, on Tuesday said many police officers in Nigeria are not aware of certain law provisions in the country which has banned them from carrying out indiscriminate arrests of citizens on the offence of loitering or wandering.
Speaking on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, Falana also challenged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to do more to stop illegal arrests and detention of Nigerians by law enforcement and security agencies.
He also asked the Nigeria Police to desist from arresting and prosecuting citizens for loitering and wandering, saying it was a violation of fundamental human rights to arrest or prosecute any citizen for such offences.
According to him, the vagrancy law, which was introduced to Nigeria under the British colonial regime, had been repealed in 1989 under the Ibrahim Babangida regime after a sustained campaign by human rights activists.
He said during his interaction with many senior police officers in the country, they were not aware the law and others such as media parade of suspects or detaining suspects in underground cells.
“On a daily basis, the Police raid communities. On the roads, people are arrested and railroaded to detention centres of the Nigerian Police. On what ground? They say you are committing wandering or loitering whereas as far back as 1989, the law on wandering, the vagrancy law has been abolished.
“Yet, on daily basis, people are still being arrested for wandering and sometimes. They are taken to court.
You need the president of the Nigerian Bar Association that can walk to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and say ‘Please, can we agree that this cannot happen in our country again? This is the law banning wandering. This is the law banning media parade of suspects in Nigeria.
“If you must know, the Anti-Torture Act has banned media parade of suspects in Nigeria; keeping anyone in underground cells, keeping anybody incommunicado.
“Sometimes when I speak with senior police officers, they are not even aware of the provisions of these laws not to talk of the rank and file. What has happened is that the poor and indigent people in our country are at the receiving end of our law,” he said.