Navy Detention: Falana Shouldn’t Blame Us, Says NHRC
The National Human Rights Commission said on Sunday that an alleged attack on it by Mr Femi Falana (SAN) over his claim of illegal detention of certain 40 persons by the Nigerian Navy was unwarranted.
The commission said in a statement by the NHRC’s Director Corporate Affairs and External Linkages, Lambert Oparah, that it was not to blame for the alleged illegal detention.
Although the statement condemned the alleged illegal detention, it said it was not its duty to enforce the court order for the release of the detainees.
It added that the human rights lawyer did not show that he had approached the court to enforce the order directing the release of the detainees.
The commission was reacting to a threat of legal action against the commission in the event of the navy’s failure to release the detainees.
Falana, in his August 5, 2019 letter, which its content was widely published by the media, also criticised the commission for failing to sanction the navy for the alleged illegal detention.
But the NHRC said it had first received Falana’s letter of May 20, 2019.
It said, “The commission also wishes to state unequivocally that although it is empowered to protect and enforce human rights, it does not have the mandate of enforcing court orders in a situation where counsel have the capacity to move the court to enforce its own orders made in favour of their clients.
“It is the duty of counsel and the beneficiary of any court order to move the court to enforce its orders. Mr. Falana has not shown the commission that the court has been moved to enforce the orders declaring the detention of the 40 persons illegal and the refusal of the Nigerian Navy to comply with the orders.
“The NHRC condemns the alleged non obedience of court order by the Nigerian navy as claimed by Mr Femi Falana, (SAN), all organs of government must be seen to respect the rule of law as required in all civilised societies, but the duty to enforce court orders lies with the court itself using the instrumentality of law enforcement agencies of the police.
“It is the hope of the commission that this type of unwarranted attack on the commission be discouraged by well-meaning Nigerians of which we view Mr Falana SAN.”
The NHRC stated that it had started treating Falana’s complaints and had sent separate letters to the lawyer and the navy.
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