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Femi Falana sends warning message about Police’s intimidation of unarmed civilians

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Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has condemned a statement by Muyiwa Adejobi ,the Nigerian Police Force spokesperson, saying civilians can’t fight back when assaulted by police officers.

The Police Force spokesperson had earlier reacted to a video of two men wrestling with an armed police officer, saying that “even if a policeman on uniform slaps a civilian, the civilian has no right to retaliate”.

Reacting to the police spokesperson’s comment which he described as “inciting and highly provocative”, Falana stated that while civilians are required to respect police officers who are discharging their lawful duties, police officers are equally mandated to respect civilians.

He noted that while the penalty for assaulting or slapping a police officer is 3 years’ imprisonment under the Criminal Code, the penalty for assaulting a civilian is 25 years under the Anti Torture Act of 2017, and the victim may sue for monetary compensation under the Anti Torture Act and the Constitution.

Falana also said that Adejobi’s comment is making it look like the “misleading impression that the Nigeria Police Force has authorised its officers to slap citizens and subject them to other forms of torture without any challenge whatsoever.”

The lawyer also asked the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali Baba to replace Adejobi if he doesn’t withdraw the comment.

The Statement Read;

“Civilians are required to respect police officers who are discharging their lawful duties. The penalty for assaulting or slapping a police officer is 3 years’ imprisonment under the Criminal Code.

“In the same vein, police officers are equally mandated to respect civilians. Indeed, section (2)(b) of the Anti Torture Act, 2017 states that torture is deemed committed when an act by which pain and suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person to punish him for an act he or a third person has committed or suspected of having committed. The penalty for assaulting a civilian is 25 years under the Anti Torture Act of 2017. In addition, the victim may sue for monetary compensation under the Anti Torture Act and the Constitution.

“The highly inciting and provocative statement which has given the misleading impression that the Nigeria Police Force has authorised its officers to slap citizens and subject them to other forms of torture without any challenge whatsoever.

“If the statement is not withdrawn within the next 24 hours, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali Baba, should not hesitate to replace Mr. Adejobi with another police officer who has unqualified respect for the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people.”

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