You're to ensure public safety, not harass Buhari's opponent, Falana hits police/ Falana

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has called out the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) for allegedly harassing opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Speaking in a statement issued on Sunday, the renonwed lawyer said the primary duty of the police is to ensure public safety.

He said it's unfortunate that the police are gradually abandoning their guiding principles, including maintaining impartiality and neutrality in handling political matters.

He cited instances where the police have arrested, detained and charged several individuals to court, including journalists, for criticising the government.

Listing several instances where the police have clampdowned on perceived opponents of the president, Falana referred to the case of Lawal Abdullahi, a septuagenarian, who was arrested and charged to court for insulting Buhari and Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari.

According to him, the man was convicted by a magistrate court and ordered to pay a fine of N70,000.

His words: “To prevent him from being sent to jail we had to pay the fine. A fortnight ago, the police arrested Nastura Ashir Sharif, leader of the coalition of northern groups, (CNG), for organising a peaceful protest against insecurity in Katsina state.

“The protest was alleged to have embarrassed the President. Consequently, Mr Sharf was brought to Abuja where he was interrogated by the police even though he did not commit any criminal offence known to law.

“However, the police had to release the youth leader from illegal custody when it was reported that President Buhari had scolded the nation’s service chiefs for the worsening state of insecurity in the country.

He went on to condemn the trend of police disrupting protests, noting such “constitutes a flagrant infringement of the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens”.

Falana also faulted the situation in Ondo state where all aides of Agboola Ajayi, deputy governor of the state, were sacked following his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He added: “While we do not endorse political prostitution on the part of members of the political class those who decamp from other political parties to the ruling party are not subjected to any form of harassment or intimidation by the Police.

“Therefore, the discriminatory treatment meted out to politicians in the opposition camp by the police cannot be justified under the current political dispensation."