Lawyers under the aegis of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch have waded into the crisis rocking the justice sector over the #ENDSARS protests, calling on the Lagos State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN to release innocent detainees.
In a letter dated October 30, 2020 and signed by its Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe and Branch Vice Chairman/Chairman, Human Rights Committee, Mr. Okey Ilofulunwa, the lawyers noted that “over 500 citizens were arrested and remanded by some Magistrates Court of Lagos State on sundry allegations relating to the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State.”
Saying the remand orders are to await the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution on the fate of the detainees, the lawyers observed that the Nigeria Correctional Service “has failed or refused to take in the affected people pursuant to which they have been taken to several police stations around Lagos where they are currently remanded under degrading and inhuman conditions.”
Titled “DPP’S LEGAL ADVICE ON #ENDSARS DETAINEES,” the letter reads: “We are concerned that given the number of defendants, their right to dignity of human persons as secured under the 1999 Constitution may be imperiled.” They stated that there are reports of human rights abuses leading up to the detention and arraignment of the citizens.
Noting that the high number of defendants has a potential to clog the justice system, the branch leadership urged Onigbanjo to ensure that “Legal Advice be issued within the next 3 (three) working days, consistent with your pledge to fast-track the issuance of the Legal Advice.”
The lawyers also urged Onigbanjo to “use your good offices to ensure that those that are innocent are released immediately,” while asking to “be availed with copies of the Legal Advice when available.”
The branch has a network of lawyers under its Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) and Court Duty Solicitor Scheme who offer free legal assistance to indigent citizens and #ENDSARS detainees.
It is recalled that NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata recently criticized the clampdown on #ENDSARS protesters, saying the NBA will not only monitor the proceedings of the several judicial panels of inquiry, but would also provide volunteer-lawyers to offer free legal services to citizens who wish to pursue their cases at the panels.