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PWAN moves to halts pretrial detention in police custody

By Murtala Adewale, Kano
01 March 2022   |   2:40 am
Worried by incessant illegal detention of suspects by the Nigerian Police Force, a civil rights organisation; Partners West Africa Nigeri

[FILES] Prison

Worried by incessant illegal detention of suspects by the Nigerian Police Force, a civil rights organisation; Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), yesterday unveiled a legal service scheme in Kano.

The legal scheme structured to enhance efficient implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) through the deployment of the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS), is geared towards curtailing police infractions against detainees.

Program Manager PWAN, Hadiza Usman, explained that the PDSS was initiated by PWAN after the enactment of order 20 of the Nigerian Police Force, to facilitate speedy dispensation of justice on criminal cases at the police custody.

Hadiza, who spoke at the opening of the training workshop for lawyers, police prosecutors, and investigators on the nitty-gritty of PSDD, raised concern over pretrial detainees at police custody and prison congestion due to lack of legal services.

She said PWAN is empowering lawyers with basic skills in ACJA and deploying them to police divisions in Kano to render probono services to indigenous suspects and offer police legal advice on the constitutional rights of suspects.

Deputy Director, Nigeria Legal Aid of Nigeria in Kano, Barr. M. Labaran Usman, noted that implementation of the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) will further strengthen legal aid service, especially to the less privileged.

He said the scheme has reduced constant friction between the police and lawyers while attempting to access detainees in police custody.

Barr. Usman, who disclosed that 98 per cent of provisions of the administration of justice system placed more advantage to defendants’ rights, insisted that the scheme would enable legal aid providers to check illegal arrest and detention of suspects.

According to Hadiza, “the training essentially is to build the capacity of lawyers, police prosecutors and investigators on applications of ACJA to make them understand the nitty-gritty of pretrial detention and right of detainees. Over time, we have noticed that the issue of congestion of correctional centers began at the police detention.

“People are being detained by the police for more than 24 or 48 hours in detention. And we realised these infractions are being perpetrated because detainees don’t know their rights. So the PSD will assist suspects and also guide the police on legal implications,” Hadiza said.