‘Parading Suspects Unconstitutional’ — Lawyer Backs Katsina Journalist Brutalised by Police 

Following a face off between Katsina female journalist, Ruqayya Aliyu Jibia and police operatives in the state, Festus Ogun, a Lagos-based constitutional lawyer has explained where the police got it wrong.

WikkiTimes had earlier reported how the journalist, a staff of Tambari TV katsina was waylaid” and “brutalized” by police operatives led by Isah Gambo, spokesman for Katsina Police Command.

Ruqayya, according to Gambo, had condemned the police several times for parading suspects who were not proven guilty of allegations leveled against them. She argued that it is unconstitutional for police to parade suspects.

Her words were corroborated by the Lagos-based lawyer who told WikkiTimes that parading suspects violates the rights to dignity of human person and lowers the esteem of the person in the eye of the public. 

Ogun also condemned the police command for punishing the journalist, adding freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution

“By virtue of section 34 and section 36 sub section 5 of the constitution, the accused or suspect does not only enjoy the presumption of innocence but parading a suspect as though he is a criminal violates the rights to dignity of human person,” Ogun stated.

He added: “It lowers the esteem of a person in the eyes of the public. It is illegal and unconstitutional. When you criticize the police about parading a suspect, which is normal, I do not think there should be punishment for that. The right of freedom of speech is guaranteed under section 39 of the constitution. Making criticism cannot in any way be defamatory. She has said the truth and nothing but the truth.

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The lawyer noted that state agents in Nigeria have grown intolerant of criticism despite operating in a democratic system, thereby denying citizens to exercise their freedom of expression without the fear of being chided. 

“There is a growing intolerance for criticism by the state agents and Nigeria itself. If you call it a democracy then there must be freedom of expression, particularly when it is coming from a journalist,” he said.

Ogun opines that freedom of the press must be upheld and such harassment (against Ruqayya) must not be tolerated in a democratic setting.

“Under chapter 2 of the constitution, the press freedom to operate freely without fear is completely guaranteed. So the harassment and intimidation of the journalist is condemnable, is unacceptable and constitutes a gross violation of rights to freedom of expresn n freedom of the media. We should not in any way tolerate it. Journalists should be very free to express themselve especially knowing fully well we practice not just democracy but a constitutional democracy. 

“The harassment, intimidation and declaring her wanted just because she made her opinion known is constitutionally unacceptable, it should not happen in a democratic society. You cannot continue to harass a citizen, intimidate, mount pressure for merely expressing a very cogent opinion. It is not legal and unconditional to parade suspects who are under the law presumed innocent,” Ogun told WikkiTimes.

To find out why police violate the constitution, WikkiTimes contacted Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO). He said he will check the constitution and revert.

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