Ibn Mahmud Haruna Geo, Esq is an Ilorin-based legal practitioner, hails from Baruten Local Govt of Kwara State, born in New-Bussa (then Kwara) now part of Niger State.
He is an alumnus of University of Ilorin, graduating in 2012 before proceeding to Nigerian Law School and was called to the Bar in 2013.
He served and worked briefly in Ibadan, Oyo State where he learnt the practice of law particularly litigation before returning to Ilorin to join the law firm of Abdulwahab Bamidele & Co.
He was appointed the 6th National President of NAMLAS between 2011-2012. also served as the Secretary, Young Lawyers’ Forum, Ilorin and currently, a member of three Committees of NBA, Ilorin Branch.
In this interview with JIMOH SULYMAN, he discussed the need for constitutional review in the premise of media parade of suspects among other sundry issues. Excerpt:
Lagos state just passed a bill that bans media parade of suspects, how essential is that to human rights ?
Our Constitution guarantees fundamental human right to fair hearing and one aspect of fair hearing is for an accused person to be presumed innocent. So, until and unless a court of law has tried an accused person and pronounce him guilty, you cannot insinuate or categorically assert that a person has committed a crime. It is our court of law that is saddled with the responsibility of declaring somebody guilty or not. So if a person is paraded to have committed certain offence and at the end of the day such person is discharged and acquitted, can you undo what you have done by parading him as a criminal?
Media parading and the media trial, what consequences does it have on the eventual outcome of the case?
From strict legal perspective, parading a suspect does not have any consequence on a case. You cannot tender what a suspect says to the media in court as a confessional statement. It is what the suspect or accused has written down during investigation that the judge has to consider and act on.
However, Judges are humans like us and they read what is in the media and it may influence their perspective of a case and affect the discharge of their duties as a judge. That is why it is said when a matter is in court, the law says you must not do anything or say anything that would undermine the matter before the Judge.
The bill also prohibits arrests in lieu in criminal matters ,what is your take on it?
Arrest in lieu offends the basic principle of law that a person cannot be punished for the crime of another.
So except a parent or associate is found culpable or suspected to be culpable in the crime committed by such person, such parent or associate ought not to be arrested or investigated or charged in lieu.
Do you think it is sacrosanct for Kwara House of Assembly to follow suit ?
The Kwara State House of Assembly can also enact relevant laws that will cater for issues of parading of suspect, arrest in lieu etc. The Kwara State House of Assembly can also look beyond these issues by also bringing innovations to our criminal jurisprudence. Most times, it is Lagos State that brings innovations into the country and others follow. It would not be bad if you have Kwara State House of Assembly bringing good innovations and contributing positively to legal jurisprudence too. There are many vital reforms needed for their to be effective dispensation of justice in Nigeria and I hope the KWHA can look into them.