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NBA demands release of Lagos protesters

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Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos State branch, has called on the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), to release innocent citizens arrested during the protests.

In a letter dated October 30, 2020, the Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe, and Vice Chairman/Chairman, Human Rights Committee, Mr. Okey Ilofulunwa, the lawyers noted that over 500 citizens were arrested and remanded in Lagos on sundry allegations relating to the protests.

Saying the remand orders were to await the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the lawyers observed that the Nigeria Correctional Service failed or refused to take in the affected people, hence they were detained at several police stations around Lagos under inhuman conditions.

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Entitled ‘DPP’s Legal Advice on EndSARS Detainees’, the letter read in part: “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.”

The high number of defendants has a potential to clog the justice system, the branch leadership noted, urging Onigbanjo to ensure that legal advice be issued within this week, consistent with his pledge.

The lawyers also urged the AG to use his good offices to ensure that the innocent were released immediately, while asking to be availed with copies of the legal advice when available.

With 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, the association recalled that its national president, Mr. Olumide Akpata, had criticised the clampdown on EndSARS protesters, saying the NBA would not only monitor the proceedings of the several judicial panels of inquiry, but would also provide volunteer lawyers for pro bono services to citizens who wish to pursue their cases at the panels.

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