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Police unlawfully arraigns man in court for filming officer

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A 41 -year-old man, Annibong Annankwu, charged with filming policemen while they were performing their lawful duty, on Thursday appeared in an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court in Lagos, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported.

Police prosecutor Kenrich Nomayo said, Annankwu violated the provisions of sections 168 and 174 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The prosecutor said that the attitude of the occupants of the car prompted the police to search the car.

Annankwu was charged with two counts of assault and breach of peace. The accused, who resides in Ikate, Surulere, Lagos, however, denied committing the offence.

Magistrate Mrs T.O Ojo admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N50,000 with one surety in like sum.

However, a check by The Guardian shows that the sections of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 did not support the prosecutor’s claim.

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The prosecutor said that the accused conducted himself in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace by unlawfully videoing a Police officer Eche Adeyi and his team on November 28 at Ojota, Lagos. But the law did not support the offence.

Sections 168 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 says “A person who assault:
(a) strikes, touches, moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without his consent; or”

“(b) by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without his consent, in such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to effect his purpose is said to assault that other person.”

“(2) The term ‘applies force’ includes the case of applying heat, light, electrical force, gas, odour, or any other substance or thing whatsoever, if applied in such a degree as to cause injury or personal discomfort.”

An assault is when an individual makes a physical attack on a Police officer. The attack could be to hit, strike, physically attack, aim blows at, slap, smack, beat, thrash, spank, thump, thwack, punch and knock the officer.

Applying force as stated in section 68 is restraining, dragging and acting protective against an officer while carrying out his duties.

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While section 174 says, “Any person who unlawfully assaults and uses actual violence on a Peace Officer or any other person while acting in the execution of his duty in or concerning the preservation of a vehicle, vessel in distress, or of any vehicle, vessel or goods wrecked, or stranded lying under water, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.”

It was stated not that the suspect dragged or assaulted the officer. His offence according to the police was that he filmed police officers.

Earlier this year in an interview published by The Punch, human rights lawyer Festus Keyamo, SAN had said Nigerians were not restricted by law to film police officers.

When asked, he said “Absolutely! Nigerians have the right to do so. It is an absolute right. They have an unrestricted and fundamental right to do so. This is because policemen are public officers performing public duties and as such, are subject to public scrutiny.”

Also, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, said it was morally right for citizens to take videos and photographs of security officers.

“And for public officers like policemen, you have no right to privacy when you are on duty so you can be videoed or photographed if you are committing a crime because, under Section 24 of the 1999 Constitution, every citizen is obligated to assist law enforcement agencies in the performance of their duties,” Falana said.

NAN reported that Nomayo said the accused, in the company of three others, who rode in a Honda Accord car, were stopped by the complainant and his team.

He said that initially, they refused to stop and they refused to wind down their window glass.

The magistrate adjourned the case until January 29, 2019 for mention.


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