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Falana leads Lagos NBA in protest against harassment of lawyers by police



Falana leads Lagos NBA in protest against harassment of lawyers by police

A human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, on Thursday, led members of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to protest against brutality of lawyers in the state.

The senior lawyer, who spoke during the protest at the headquarters of the Lagos State Police Command in Ikeja, called on the Nigeria Police Force to conduct proper investigations into the case of brutality against lawyers in the state.

The protest followed the unlawful arrest and detention of a lawyer, Olumide Sonupe, by the police in the state.

The lawyers who are members of about five branches of the NBA marched from its Ikeja secretariat, while displaying banners, to the Command headquarters where the state Commissioner of Police, Adegoke Fayoade, addressed them.

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This is coming hours after the CP had ordered the removal of the Divisional Police Officer of Moshalashi Police Station, Austin Arase, who ordered Sonupe’s detention.

The 36-year-old Sonupe was hospitalised after he was said to have been detained by the police while seeking the bail of his client at the Moshalashi Police Station in the Alimosho area of the state on December 30, 2023.

It was learnt that the lawyer’s health deteriorated upon his release from the police station on January 1, 2024, after spending two nights with his client in the cell.

The incident was said to have happened when Sonupe went to the station on December 30 to seek the bail of his client, a carpenter, who had been detained for an alleged breach of contract.

Falana, while speaking during the protest on Thursday, said the NBA was ready to defend the rights of lawyers, while stating that the association had filed a report and that an investigation was ongoing.

He said: “The five branches of the Nigerian Bar Association have come to protest police brutality on the Nigeria Police. We are making a case through him about the brutalisation of lawyers and indeed other citizens.

“The NBA wants a full investigation of the incident. We are pleased to know that the Commissioner of Police has said an investigation is ongoing and besides the report, the NBA is filing a report to protect the human rights of our colleagues.”

The NBA, Ikeja branch. Seyi Olawumi, while speaking with reporters, said the protest was to condemn the increased rate of harassment that lawyers suffer in the hands of the police.

“It is a peaceful protest against police brutality of our members who go into police stations for the service of their clients,” he added.

The CP, while addressing the aggrieved lawyers, said the incident was unfortunate and promised that such issues would be avoided.

Fayoade said: “I have ordered that the DPO be removed and I have issued a departmental query to the affected DPO. This will go a long way in affecting his departmental progress. We have not in any way stopped lawyers from visiting our cell. Under my mandate, magistrates will be allowed to visit the police stations.

“The issue of what happened to the lawyer is quite unfortunate and we will not tolerate it. When such a situation comes up, I do not think the lawyer is meant to have an altercation with the police officer. Police officers are meant to respect lawyers and lawyers are meant to respect police officers.”

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