Falana leads lawyers in protest against police brutality in Lagos


Barrister Femi Falana (SAN) leading lawyers in protest against unlawful detention of their colleague Olumide Sonubi by the police in Lagos

By Adenike Ayodele

Mr Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on Thursday led hundreds of lawyers in protest against unlawful detention of the colleague, Mr Olumide Sonubi, by the police at Gowon Estate Police Station, Lagos, for two days.

The lawyer was reportedly hospitalised after detention by the police on Dec. 30, 2023, over an alleged assault of a police officer during negotiations.

The Ikeja, Ikorodu, Badagry and Epe branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) carried out the peaceful protest against the alleged brutality of the personnel of Lagos State Police Command.

Speaking during the protest, Falana berated the police for inhuman treatment of lawyers and the general public.

The human rights activist said the five branches of the NBA decided to come together to fight police brutality due to the recent maltreatment of a lawyer.

Falana said the NBA decided to make a case through the affected colleague to say no to brutalisation of lawyers and the citizens by the police.

He said the NBA demanded full investigation of the incident.

“I am happy the commissioner of police announced today that investigation is ongoing.

“The commissioner also indicated that lawyers should be prepared to be members of the committee since the police have nothing to hide.

“Beside the report, the NBA is also also taking certain steps to file actions to protect the human rights of our colleagues to make a point that if anything of that nature happens to any lawyer, the NBA will take it up.”

The Chairman of NBA, Ikeja Branch, Mr Seyi Olawunmi, also condemned the act of the divisional police officer of Gowon Estate and called for a thorough investigation which would involve the NBA.

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Olawunmi said the protest was not about their colleague but about seeking justice.

He said: “If our member has behaved in an unruly manner, let the law take its course.

“Lawyers are not above the law and we need to press the fact that this is about an ordinary man on the street.

“So, we are not coming out because it is our colleague that is involved but we are saying if you go to a police station as a Nigerian, you have a right to be treated in a civil manner that you deserve.”

Olawunmi said it was wrong of the police to ask Nigerians to drop their phones before they could get access at police stations.

“You cannot go in there and they subject you to any form of harassment.

“They tell you to drop your phone at the entrance.

“I mean if you are not doing anything at your station that is unholy, why would you, why are you asking us to drop our phones,” he said.

The Lagos branch of the NBA mobilised about 700 lawyers across the state for the protest march from the secretariat of the NBA Ikeja Branch to the headquarters of the Lagos State Police Command.

Other NBA Chairmen present at the protest were: Mr Olabisi Makanjuola, Lagos NBA Chairman, Mr Emeka Ralph, Badagry NBA Chairman and Mr Wale Adegoke, NBA Ota Branch.


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