Lagos State Police Command and the major stakeholders in justice system have concluded on plans to work to work together with a view to upholding rights of residents as guaranteed by the 199 Constitution.
Specifically, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu assured the stakeholders in the justice sector that his command would ensure it uphold the rights of suspects and detainees in police custody.
Odumosu stated this while receiving a delegation of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria; Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch; Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (ROLAC) programme of the British Council and the Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE) who paid him an advocacy visit.
While acknowledging that criminal justice administrationbeganwithpolicing, Odumosuassured the delegation of the cooperation of the command inpromotingruleof lawandaccesstojustice, saying “itisasymbioticrelationship; berestassuredof our commitment.
Everythingthestakeholdersaredoing is towards making the society better.” Also, he assured his august visitors of his support for the programme, noting that it “provides an enabling atmosphere for easy access to police facilities and suspects by designated members.”
He, however, emphasized the need for proper conducttoensurethatthePDSSvolunteerswork in line with the mandate of the programme.
To facilitate the work of the volunteers, Odumosu announced the appointment of the Officer-in-Charge of the Legal Unit, SP Yetunde Cardoso as the “Judicial Liaison Officer” for the command, mandating Cardoso to work with the delegation among other civil society groups “to promote prompt dispensation of justice in the state and to ensure that the Human Rights Desk of the command is active.”
In her remarks, leader of the delegation and Zonal Director of the Legal Aid Council (South-West), Mrs. Latifat Salau noted that both Force Order 20 and the Legal Aid Council Act had empowered the council to visit police detention centres in collaboration with non-governmental organisations.
She emphasized that the PDSS programme would enable lawyers to visit police detention centres “to look at the welfare of inmates, ensure that they do not spend longer time than is constitutionally provided for, and generally secure their fundamental rights.”
Salau observed that while some police stations accord duty solicitors unfettered access to detainees “others do not, thereby creating bottleneck in achieving the goals of Force Order 20.”
She urged Odumosu to redress the hardship by directing officers to facilitate access to detainees by duty solicitors.
Also, the Executive Director of REPLACE, Mrs. Felicitas Aigbogun-Brai assured the police top shots – which included two deputy police commissioners and the commander of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) among others – that solicitors had been trained and accredited by her organization.
She was echoed by Lagos State Coordinator of ROLAC, Mrs. Ajibola Ijimakinwa, who stated thatthePDSSprogrammewasfundedbytheEuropean Union (EU) and being implemented by theBritish Councilthrough ROLAC/REPLACE.
Vice-Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch and Chairman of its Human Rights Committee, Mr. Okey Ilofulunwa commended the command for its work in combating crime, assuring that NBA “will continue to place premium on safeguarding the rights of detainees in collaboration with critical stakeholders.”
The delegation also included the Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch PDSS Sub-committee, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke; Mrs. Grace Adenubi and Mrs. Omolara Rogers, both of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, and Mr. Segun Babalola, Programme Officer at REPLACE.
Nwadioke was last February appointed Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch PDSS programme with a charge to drive implementation of Sections 33 and 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA).