By Maxwell Nosakhare Uwaifo Esq

Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification
and Enforcement) Act, (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004

Every individual shall have the right to have his cause heard. This comprises:
(a) the right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts of violating his
Fundamental rights as recognised and guaranteed by conventions, laws, regulations
and customs in Force;
(b) the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a competent court or
(c) the right to defence, including the right to be defended by counsel of his choice;
(d) the right to be tried within a reasonable time by an impartial court or tribunal. No one may be condemned For an act or omission which did not constitute a legally punishable offence at the time it was committed. No penalty may be inflictedfor an offence For which no provision was made at the time it was committed.
Punishment is personal and can be imposed only on the offender.
Section 36 (5) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 provides that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proved guilty.
The intention of the law is to the effect that only a law court can pronounce a crime suspect innocent or guilty based on evidence before it.
To further protect the rights of crime suspects, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJA, 2015 provided certain conditions that must be adhered to by investigating security agencies in handling cases. One of such conditions is that
statements of suspects must be recorded in the presence of a legal representative. By virtue of this provision, the liberty and privacy of criminal suspects under the law of the land are protected beyond any orchestrated intent of the law enforcement agency.
Despite these laudable provisions of the law, law enforcement agencies especially the Nigerian Police Force has often portray suspects as convicted criminals even when an investigation is yet to be concluded, the Nigerian Police every week across its various commands, parade crime suspects before journalists and compel them to confess to their crimes.
In Ndukwem Chiziri Nice v. AG, Federation & Anor. (2007) CHR 218 at
232, Justice Banjoko held that
“The act of parading him (the suspect) before the
press as evidenced by the Exhibits annexed to the affidavit was uncalled for and a
callous disregard for his person. He was shown to the public the next day of his
arrest even without any investigation conducted in the matter “He was already
prejudged by the police who are incompetent, so to have such function, it is the

duty of the court to pass a verdict of guilt and this constitutes a clear breach of
section 36(4) and (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 on
the doctrine of fair hearing.”

Similarly, in Dyot Bayi & 14 Ors. V. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004-2009)
CCJLER 245 at 265
, the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS Court condemned the media trial of the applicants when it held that: “The court thinks that for the fact that the defendants presented the applicants before the press when no judge or court has found them guilty, certainly constitute a violation of the principle of presumption of innocence such as provided in Article 7(b) of the same African Charter and not a violation in the sense of Article 5 of the said Charter. The court proceeded to award damages of $42,750.00 to each of the 10 applicants
and $10,000.00 as costs payable by the Federal Government for the illegal actions of the naval personnel who carried out the illegal parade of the applicants.
Before the coming into effect of the Anti-Torture Act 2017, Section 34 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides that:
(1) Every individual is entitled to respect the dignity of his person, and
(a) No person shall be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment;
The Anti-Torture Act 2017 has now plainly made the right to freedom from torture,
cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of a non-derogable right, criminalizing
torture and protecting victims and witnesses from torture.

Section 1 of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 Act, imposes an obligation on the government to ensure that all persons, including suspects, detainees, and prisoners are respected at all times and that no person under investigation or held in custody is subjected to any form of physical/mental torture. It admonishes the government to adhere to domestic and international standards on absolute condemnation and prohibition of torture.
Section 2 (1) (a) of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 defines what amounts to torture as it relates to a parade of suspects which adversely affects the mental health of the suspect. It states that:
(1) Torture is deemed committed when an act by which pain and suffering, whether
physical or mental is intentionally inflicted on a person to –
(a) Obtain information or confession from him or a third person;
Section 3 Anti-Torture Act 2017 makes it very clear that evidence obtained from torture is inadmissible in any court except for use against a person accused of torture.
Section 8 provides that a person who commits torture shall be liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of 25 years. If death occurs as a result of the torture, the person involved will be charged with murder. It goes on to say that this does not in any way take away the victim’s right to civil claim in court for damages or compensation for the torture and “a  person” who participates in the infliction of torture or who is present during the commission of the act is liable as the principal; A superior military, police or law enforcement officer or senior government official who issues an order to lower ranking personnel to torture a victim for whatever purpose is equally liable as the principal. The immediate commanding officer of the unit concerned with the security or law enforcement agencies is held liable as an accessory to the crime for any act or omission or negligence on his part that may have led to the commission of torture by his subordinates.
Now, the question that comes to mind is whether the parade of crime suspect amount to torture
Among other cases, the popular Instagram comedian Pankeeroy was arrested for alleged computer-related fraud.
The comedian according to the statement released by the EFCC claimed to have gone into a Bitcoin scam after he suffered depression. It was also said that he had been presenting himself as a vendor who redeems bitcoin vouchers using the platform to defraud his unsuspecting victims. That very day, the arrest of the comedian trended on social media making room for public condemnation even though the court is yet to find him guilty.
After a month in detention, the comedian regained his freedom. Pankeerov’s legal representative later dismissed the allegations against the comedian saying that no petition was written against him and he was not found guilty of any crime.
What many failed to see is the damage the media trial has done to his mental health and the reputation of Pankeerov, many brands might drop him and some would not want to work with him due to his arrest which is a form of scandal and adversely torture.
The parading of crime suspects is a form of torture; smacks of inhuman and degrading treatment which the Nigerian Constitution frowns at. These suspects are already branded criminals by the security agents that parade them, even when they should know that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. This practice is
nothing but torture and clearly contravention of Section 2 (1) (a) of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 which defines what amounts to torture. It states that:
(1) Torture is deemed committed when an act by which pain and suffering, whether
physical or mental is intentionally inflicted on a person to –
(a) Obtain information or confession from him or a third person;
The coming into effect of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 has fundamentally changed things, the parading of a suspect for public shaming and media trial is a form of torture on the suspect as envisaged by the Act. A police officer can be prosecuted for torture; aiding, abetting, or procuring any person to commit torture.  A police officer
and or any other law enforcement officer cannot rely on emergency powers or ‘orders from above as justification for using torture to obtain information or extract a confessional statement.

The criminal liability of police officers under the Anti-Torture Act 2017 is specific to the individual persons connected to the act of torture. This liability could be direct or indirect.
While I commend the Lagos State Assembly for taking steps to arrest such barbaric practice, Nigerians need to know that the courts have spoken loud and clear on the illegality of this specie of parade. Aside from the illegality of the action, the
the unintended consequence is that the parade becomes a source of terror to the suspect and their families.
This act isn’t different from jungle justice, but the very sad part is that this is state-sponsored mob action, orchestrated by a primitive criminal administrative system.
Even when a new Police Act 2021 is in force and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 has come to stay and also the Anti-Torture Act 2017, Nigerian Police Force is still trapped in the past of gross misconduct and reckless
professional negligence. A suspect must not be treated like a convict. Even convicts have rights under our laws and respect for the dignity of their human person is guaranteed by the constitution. I make bold to state that; Pre-trial parade is an inhumane and degrading treatment of suspects who are presumed innocent until proven contrary by the court. Our security agencies should come to terms with the modern investigative practice which is –
investigation before arrests. Consequently, all Nigerians should be apprised of these laws, so that legal
remedies could be sought against individuals and/or Agencies whose actions might lead to avoidable death or stern injuries both mental and physical under the circumstances encapsulated under the Anti-torture Act 2017 and other Acts or Laws.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this
publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will
differ and should be discussed with a legal practitioner.

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