Lagos lawyer Femi Falana SAN yesterday described the arrest, detention and parade of National Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) Ambassador Dickson Akoh and 49 of his members as illegal.
Akoh and 49 others were at about 11:30pm last Tuesday arrested by some police operatives after commissioning its new headquarters in Abuja.
It was alleged that operatives brutalised the arrested PCN chieftains, leading to the admission of at least two of them at the National Hospital.
But they were granted bail last Thursday following the intervention of Falana.
Falana, who is lawyer to PCN, told reporters in Abuja: “Every suspect is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. Police, SSS, NDLEA and others parade of suspects is illegal.
“Journalists should stop covering parades. Police have never paraded a governor among those who have been alleged to have stolen billions.
“Have EFCC paraded those who have been caught to have kept billons in their homes? Police only parade the poor.
”Why did the police have to parade the National Commandant and other officers of the Peace Corps as if they are terrorists?”
On how they were granted bail, Falana said: “We contacted the leadership of the Police Force and we were able to impress it on the police that this organization is not illegal.
”The court made it clear that the police, the State Security Service and institutions of the government cannot on their own proscribe any organization without a court order.
“And since then the proscription was declared illegal and unconstitutional.
”We have passed this judgment to the police authorities and happy our clients were granted bail last Thursday.”
Falana added: “For me, I can understand the opposition of the police to a body like the PCN. It was the same kind of antagonism that was displaced or demonstrated when there was a campaign to have the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).
“But today, that body has been recognized by the National Assembly and members of the corps are now working with the police.”
The Police, Falana said, operate under difficult conditions hence the need for police to embrace PCN.
According to him: “There is no way you can police 180 million people with barely 350,000 police personnel and out of which about 120,000 are guarding big men, women and cooperate bodies in the country.
“I thought the police should have embraced a body like the PCN to work together to make their job much easier.”