Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has asked the Lagos State Government to free those it is detaining in detention facilities throughout the state in the spirit of Christmas and New Year.
The party also demanded the freeing of all seized vehicles and business implements, like commercial motorcycles and buses, confiscated by the government and its agencies.
In the words of a Press Statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, DPA said, “Many of these detainees are being held on flimsy excuses and for bail-able misdemeanours.. Yet not a few have been locked up for longer than they would have served had they been found guilty and sentenced by a court of competent jurisdiction. They deserve to spend the New Year at home with their families.”
However, DPA advised that if there were suspects who had committed regular crimes, they should be transferred to regular courts.
According to the party, many of such detainees languishing in jail, without facing formal charges before a Judge or a court of competent jurisdiction, could be found in the several detention facilities operated by the state, sometimes in collusion with relevant authorities in the Federal Maximum Prison at Potoki in Badagry, Kirikiri, Alausa and Ikorodu.
“We have said it before and we say it now, these human rights violations are strange in a democratic environment, especially in a state governed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria,” DPA said.
DPA reported investigations showing that people detained by the regular police fared better than those arrested by Lagos-run agencies like the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Environmental Task Force and local governments.
The party said because of the inappropriateness of their stay in prisons, people in detention for allegedly violating state regulations were usually held in cramped prison halls, with little or no provision for sleeping, leisure or medicare.
Vilifying Lagos for contributing to the country’s sordid human rights records, especially as reported by Transparency International, the DPA statement said: “ Lagos has displayed much impunity and arbitrariness in these detentions, which are typical of a military, fascist and dictatorial government. These violations have joined with those of the police, the Federal Government and other states to give the country a bad name in the comity of nations.”
Furthermore, the party highlighted that Lagos by these acts had violated the Constitution, the African Charter, the Commonwealth Charter, the United Nations Charter and conventions relating to torture, Fair Hearing, Freedom of Movement, Right to Life, Right to Human Dignity and Right to Liberty .
It said too that victims were often detained for periods exceeding the constitutionally-stipulated 48 hours, without any formal notice to their relations or access to lawyers.
The party insisted the state must seize the spirit of the Yuletide to free all such detainees and pay due compensation to those whose rights had been violated.