Human rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, has condemned the practice of parading suspects in alleged criminal cases before the media.
Speaking at a civil society roundtable programme on Administration of Criminal Justice Act and abolition of stay of proceedings in criminal trials, he maintained that it was illegal to subject suspects to media trial.
According to Falana, media trial could subvert the justice system, adding that only the poor and the less-privileged in most cases are subjected to media parade, with the rich treated with dignity and respect.
The senior advocate commended the judiciary for the abolition of ‘stay of proceedings’ in criminal trials, describing it as a crooked and unethical means deployed by some lawyers in order to delay justice.
He said, “You don’t parade the big men; you don’t parade politically exposed persons. You only parade the poor.
“It is a class matter It does not apply to the poor in magistrate and customary courts.”
Rotimi Jacobs SAN, a counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, while agreeing with Falana, said the abuse of stay on proceedings has delayed justice and led to the abrupt end of many criminal trials in Nigeria.
Making reference to the case of the late General Sani Abacha’s family which was withdrawn after 14 years, he said many notable lawyers frustrate the course of justice with technicalities.
He, however, hailed the Supreme Court decision on the stay of proceedings, adding that “It will enhance the administration of justice and remove unnecessary hiccups.
“Lawyers need to be ethical and moral in their practice, there is need for them to change (their) attitude,” Jacobs added.