Police Launch Scheme on Legal Right of Detainees
I am delighted and indeed privileged to make the presentation of the Nigeria Police Force Order 20 as amended otherwise known as the Police Duty Solicitors’ Scheme (PDSS) to the public. The is yet another milestone of this Police Administration’s efforts to ensure an efficient Criminal Justice Sector but this time with emphasis on the rights of persons arrested and detained by the Police to easily access legal representation.
On my assumption of office as the Inspector-General of Police, I stated in very clear terms, that this Police administration under my leadership will operate within the mantra of the rule of law and respect the rights of all Nigerians, irrespective of religion, ethnic, social or political inclinations while performing our constitutional duties of protecting lives and property. This informed my decision to lunch the Nigeria Police Force creed “titled “OUR CREED”.
The creed is as follows;
· We shall Police the country based on international core values of Policing with integrity.
· We shall ensure that rule of law prevails in our action and activities
· We shall respect diversity, display courage, show compassion and demonstrate professionalism
· We shall operate within the principles of Democratic Policing.
· We shall shun corruption.
· We shall make Nigeria safer and secured
The launching today of the is a manifestation of my commitment to deliver on my promise to the government and good people of Nigeria to operate within the mantra of the rule of law. The PDSS is a tripartite scheme comprising of the Nigeria Police, the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and the Open Society Justice Initiative. This synergy is not just a partnership but collaboration designed to promote and protect the human rights of citizens.
The scheme will guarantee lawyers engaged by the Legal Aid Councilaccess to persons arrested and detained in the Police Stations across the country to offer them free legal representation. This will reduce, if not eliminate the usual allegation of prolonged detentions, torture and extortion at formations across the country. The legality of the Scheme is derived from Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
Both the Force and the general public stand to benefit from this Scheme. The Policee who are often accused of torture and inhuman treatment at police stations will now have an independent person not only to act as a check to their excesses but they could be vital witnesses to the officers when accused wrongly. On the other hand, the public, mainly the poor and the vulnerable arrested by the Police for being in conflict with the law will not only have the services of a counsel free of charge to ensure the protection of their rights but at no cost.
Let me state without fear of contradiction that this current Polic Management has a zero tolerance on violation of the rights of citizens and corruption. There will be no hiding place for officers whose conducts run foul with the law. You must learn to be professional in the discharge of your duties and shun all forms of misconducts. Equally, I wish to assure you that this Administration rewards honesty and hard work. Any good work of yours will not go unnoticed and unrewarded.
For our partners, the Legal Aid council and the Open Society Initiative, I commend your efforts in the realisation of this laudable step in the Criminal Justice Sector. You are however advised to ensure that the scheme is not seen as a usurpation of Police functions but simply to have easy access to detainees in the formations to protect their rights as guaranteed in the Constitution.
Let me use this opportunity to express my appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for providing an enabling environment for the Police to perform its constitutional functions. I am indeed very grateful to His Excellency for this support.
Finally it is my honour and privilege to present to you Force Order 20 (PDSS) as amended and I encourage Police officers in all formations to allow Lawyers under the scheme have access to detainees.
IGP IBRAHIM K. IDRIS NPM, mni
Inspector General of Police