Femi Falana, a human rights activist and lawyer, has said individual police officers should also be compelled to pay damages for violation of human rights rather than the Nigeria Police Force settling all legal damages.
Falana stated this symposium organised by Legal Touch Initiative, which was recently held virtually with the theme: ‘Human rights violations in Nigeria: Time to end impunity and way forward.’
According to Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), human rights abuses remains on a high in the country because the individual police officer(s) involved in such offence are not asked by the courts to compensate victims.
He said: “Arresting people in lieu of criminal suspects has been prohibited but still goes on everyday and the other painful one, and we must make this clear to the public; why is the Nigeria Police Force paying damages for the responsibilities and negligence of its officers?
“I have been pleading with the human rights community; if your client is detained, don’t sue the police alone, sue the police officer involved and ask for specific damages against him.
“If by the time the judgment is delivered, he has retired, let them take part of his pension; that will serve as a lesson for people. But right now, they detain illegally, some get killed, the officers involved get promoted, retire with their benefits. For me, that should not be allowed.”
The senior lawyer also insisted that the parade of criminal suspects by the police is illegal, noting that it was done particularly to poor people.
He said: “The parade of suspects, I have argued repeatedly, is a class matter. You only parade the poor; nobody will parade a permanent secretary or minister who has stolen N10bn. But those who have robbed people of a few thousand naira are paraded by the police.
“The parade of suspect is illegal; it is against the right to dignity of persons because every suspect is still presumed innocent.”
Other panellists at the event were the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu; labour lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Aborisade; a former special adviser to the FCT Minister, Henry Shield; and a human rights lawyer, Tope Akinyode.