Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked law enforcement agencies in Nigeria to obey the constitution and put a permanent stop to pre-trial media parades of accused persons.
In a statement issued to mark the one year anniversary of the nationwide #ENDSARS Protest, the group through its National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said the continuous parade of suspects increasingly portrays Nigeria as the Banana Republic, whereby the constitution is disregarded by the same publicly paid employees who should enforce the law.
The Rights group said in developed societies, the identity of crime suspects are revealed after they are convicted by competent courts of law.
HURIWA said it is in discussion with stakeholders on what legal steps to take to compel law enforcement agencies to follow the law and stop the media parade of accused persons in Nigeria.
It said: “The practice has become notorious in Nigeria, that once security agencies arrest anyone suspected to have committed an offence, such suspects are immediately paraded before the public, in the full glare of cameras.
“ The practice has become notorious in Nigeria, that once security agencies arrest anyone suspected to have committed an offence, such suspects are immediately paraded before the public, in the full glare of cameras. Such crude practice undermines the investigation process. Worse still, it defames the suspect’s reputation in an irreversible manner, where such a suspect is eventually proven innocent.
“ The courts have consistently cautioned the law enforcement agencies, to desist from parading criminal suspects before the media. It is more worrisome that these parades and media trials by the Police, of people who are at best suspects, usually take place even before investigations begin, or are concluded.
“This act is patently unconstitutional and unlawful. It is curious that such practice has since been accepted as normal by individuals and the society,” the rights group noted.