The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris has said the new police duty scheme would eliminate illegal detentions, torture and extortion of suspects at police formation across the country.
He made this known on Wednesday in Abuja at the launch of a new Force order called the Police Duty Solicitor’s Scheme (PDSS) aim to ensure an efficient criminal justice sector in the country.
PDSS which is a tripartite scheme comprising of the Nigerian Police, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and the Open Society Justice Initiative is designed to protect and promote the rights of a person arrested and detained by the police to easily access legal representation.
The IGP said the scheme will guarantee lawyers engaged by the legal aid council access to persons arrested and detained in police stations across the country.
He added that, “Both the Force and the general public stand to benefit from this scheme. The public, mainly the poor and the vulnerable arrested by the police for being in conflict with the law.”
He explained that they would not only have the service of a counsel free of charge, it is ensured that their rights would be protected.
The legality of the scheme is derived from section 36(5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerians 1999 as amended.
He advised the Legal Aid Council to ensure that the scheme is not seen as a usurpation of Police functions but simply to have access to detainees in Police formations to protect their rights as guaranteed in the constitution.
Earlier, Professor Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Senior Managing Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative, revealed that about 80% of people in the prison who are awaiting trial cannot afford bail, barrister or bribe.
He said what the scheme does is to eliminate the need for that.
“If you are arrested by the police and taken to the police station, this force order allows you get entitled to a lawyer free of charge,” He added.
He explained that suspects also have the right to demand administratively in the process for a lawyer from the Legal Aid Counsel to be assigned to them.
He said, “The idea is that poor people who cannot afford a bail, barrister or bribe do not spend too much time in pre-trial detention.”
He lamented that the average time a poor person spends in pre trail detention is over 3years.