By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, directed the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, to compile names of all persons in detention on terror related activities, insisting that such detainees should be accorded their rights.
Speaking at an event in Abuja, yesterday, to mark the International Human Rights Day, the legal body, through its National President, Chief Okey Wali, SAN, said: “Our country must at all times be a country founded on the rule of law and due process.
We, therefore, urge all security agencies holding persons in their custody to transfer such suspects to the Nigeria Police Force for prosecution.
“We believe that it is lame excuse to pretend that these categories of persons are being detained in anticipation of an amendment to the Terrorism Act. Such an amendment, if passed, can never take a retrospective effect. We, therefore, believe that a more creative approach should be adopted in dealing with some of these complicated issues.”
Contending that “no provision of the law or the Constitution gives the State Security Service, the military or the police the right to detain suspects ad infinitum,” the NBA said: “Nothing, therefore, justifies the detention of insurgents by agencies not empowered to detain them.
“Nothing justifies the refusal of the said agencies to hand over the insurgents to the Nigeria Police Force. And nothing justifies the NPF in joining other security agencies in detaining insurgents without trial. Nothing justifies the holding of persons suspected of having committed a criminal offence without trial.
“After all, section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.
“We also want to reiterate thatNigeriahas an obligation to investigate allegations of extrajudicial executions by security agencies. There is nothing shameful about acknowledging mistakes and indiscretions and pledging to make amends. Denying cases of extra-judicial executions and unlawful detentions in the face of overwhelming evidence can only diminish our prestige and respect in the comity of nations.
“There is no doubt that extra-judicial execution by the Nigeria Police amounts to a disregard of the duty to organise the apparatus of the state in such a manner as to guarantee the rights recognised in the African Charter.
“It is also our view that by carrying out or tolerating actions directed toward effecting extra-legal executions, by not investigating them adequately or diligently, and by not punishing those responsible, the state violates the duty to respect the rights recognised in the African Charter and to ensure their free and full exercise, by the alleged victim and by his next of kin, and for society as a whole to know what happened.
“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government to investigate all the allegations of extra-judicial executions and torture levelled against the various branches of the security agencies. Impunity will persist so long as cases of this nature are not investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
Meanwhile, describing the issue of awaiting trial inmates and prison congestion as a sore point in the criminal justice system in the country, NBA, advised Magistrates and Judges of the lower courts to be more reasonable and rational in imposing bail conditions, noting that “some bail conditions are so stringent and are imposed in order not to be met.”