On Monday, December 03, 2018, the Department of State Services (DSS) paraded one Amina Mohammed for impersonating first lady Aisha Buhari among other personalities. According to the DSS, she gained access into Aso Villa under false pretense (how she was able to achieve that should be a matter of interest) through which she was able to defraud several individuals of their hard earned money. At the moment, the accused is still a suspect in the eye of the law as she has never been convicted of any crime.
While being paraded, she interjected several times claiming innocence while mentioning her collaborators who according to her are individuals with unfettered access to the seat of power.
However, a new video emerged on Thursday which has brought a huge embarrassment to the DSS and the media. In the video, the suspect was manhandled for covering her face with a veil. While the veil was forcibly taken away from her, she later ran under a table where she was further manhandled. While this was happening the pressmen at the event neither made any effort to stop recording. This is a suspect, not a convict.
I have covered the undemocratic parading of ‘suspects’ by security agencies in #Nigeria, and this is easily one of the worst cases of indignant abuse on a citizen presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The media should NOT be seen as aiding and abetting this wrong. pic.twitter.com/tkhkPctriX
— Peter NKANGA (@nkanga_p) December 6, 2018
While the conduct of the DSS can be akin to victimisation on behalf of a supreme authority, the conduct of the media was highly distasteful and unprofessional. Several times, security agencies have come under condemnation for parading suspects that have not been convicted of any crime. However, they’ve had the media as a reliable partner in this charade which has taken a sad dimension with Amina Mohammed’s parade at the DSS headquarters.
The media is a tool for change and must drive the change process through the ambits of the rule of law. The media must not be part of activities that encourage human right abuse of human right. On this International Human Rights Day how the DSS treated Amina is an assault on her freedom of speech and a right to be heard. The DSS cannot usurp the role of the judiciary by forcefully parading suspects and the media must not offer itself as a willing tool for oppression.