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EFCC, lawyer engage in social media debate over media parade of suspects

  • Posted by on  September 14th, 2020 at 1:43 pm 👏 Drop Comment
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    The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Tope Akinyode, a lawyer, have engaged in a Twitter debate over how the anti-graft agency parades suspects.

     

    The argument began when @mrseunlawal, a Twitter user, urged EFCC to stop bringing suspects to the media.

     

    Responding, EFCC said it only parades suspects after they have been profiled with evidence obtained from investigations.

     

    The commission said it does not pronounce a suspect guilty or otherwise, only the court does.

     

     “However, parading of suspects for their ALLEGED crime is to inform and update the public of the commission’s activities, and it is done within the ambit of law,” EFCC tweeted.

     

    “In a fundamental rights suit, Sulyman Abaya Vs. EFCC, Justice Hammed Gegele, of Kwara State High Court, Ilorin, ruled that since the published image has the word, ALLEGED, there is no injury to the suspect’s reputation.”

     

    Weighing in on the matter, Akinyode described EFCC’s comments as misguided and do not represent the position of the law in Nigeria. 

     

     “It is illegal for security operatives to parade innocent citizens. A suspect (even if caught at the scene of crime) is innocent unless convicted by the court,” the lawyer tweeted. 

    “Media and public parade of suspects have no legitimacy under the Nigerian judicature. The only exception to this is ‘Identification Parade’ which is allowed by law. But there is a clear distinction between media parade and identification parade.

     

    “While media parade is outrightly illegal, identification parade is a matter of legal necessity where the identity of a suspect is in doubt by a prosecution witness.

     

    “So to allay the doubt of a prosecution witness, the real suspect of a crime is placed in a group of people who have striking physical resemblance as the suspect and the police would ask the witness to identify the suspect. This is what identification parade entails.”

     

    Citing the case of Ottoh Obono v. inspector general of police (IGP) in suit no FHC/CA/CS/91/2009, Akinyode said any suspect who is unjustly paraded before the media can successfully challenge it in court because it is a violation of the fundamental right to human dignity.

     

    Akinyode added that if the EFCC fails to desist from media parade of suspects, he would proceed to the court to challenge the “illegality”. 

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