By Oladapo Udom
Lagos – The Rule of Law and Anti Corruption (RoLAC) Programme on Tuesday organised programme to build the capacity of Divisional Police Officers (DPO) to comply with reporting obligations under the law.
Ajibola Ijimakinwa, Lagos State Coordinator, RoLAC told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the training would further enlighten the officers on how to properly care for accused persons detained in their cells.
The two-day training programme which started on Jan. 14 will end on Jan. 15.
NAN reports that RoLAC is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council.
Ijimakinwa said that the training was to acquaint DPO’s with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and ACJ Law regarding the detention facilities which they superseded.
“These provisions mandate heads of police stations and other law enforcement agencies to submit periodic reports on arrests that are conducted without warrant.
“They also obligate designated magistrates to conduct periodic inspection visits to places of detention,” she said.
The coordinator said that ACJA and ACJL were designed to ensure oversight of police arrests, reduce arbitrariness, improve respect for human rights and increase public confidence in the administration of criminal justice.
“Over the last 12 months, RoLAC has supported the implementation of sections 33 and 34 of the ACJA in the Federal Capital Territory.
“Implementation has resulted in increased compliance with statutory time limits regarding pre-trial detention in police cells, more arraignments and respect for the rights of suspects.
“We hope to achieve the same results in Lagos State with the training RoLAC has given to both magistrates and DPOs,” she said.
According to Ijimakinwa, RoLAC’s aim is to enhance good governance in Nigeria, curb corruption, reduce impunity and increase access to justice for women, children and persons with disabilities.
Mr Joseph Otteh, a lawyer and consultant to the RoLAC said that the implementation of section 33 and section 34 of ACJA would help in sanitising detention centres.
“Section 34 of the ACJA provides: The Chief Magistrate, or where there is no Chief Magistrate within the police division, any Magistrate designated by the Chief Judge for that purpose, shall at least every month, conduct an inspection of police stations or other places of detention within his territorial jurisdiction other than the person,” he said.
Otteh said there was need to educate the Police officials on why it was important for the process to be transparent in other to achieve the purpose of those sections of the ACJA.
“We really want to go beyond the formalisms and ensure that we can affect life’s and achieve the goals of these sections and improve the divinity of the detention procedure.
“Detention culture in police stations is changing and we are excited about that because the tendency for people to be dehumanised is reduced right now.
“Nigeria is gradually making some constructive efforts to dignify that custodial regime and ensure that citizens feel more respected even when they are detained,” he said.
Also speaking, Bayo Akinlade, Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ikorodu said that the initiative has a productive outcome in terms of decongesting detention centres.
“The process would help reduce the amount of people charged at police stations from going through the process of court and ending up in Kirikiri prison,” he said.
Akinlade, also coordinator, Police Duty Solicitor Scheme, Lagos State said that the scheme allows lawyers to be placed in police stations to provide services for the accused persons.
“This scheme ensures that the rights of the accused persons are not violated by the process.
“The most fundamental thing it does is to protect the rights of citizens and ensure that they are not detained for more than the 24 hours period in police stations where they are detained,” Akinlade said.