An NGO, Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE), has trained police officers on provision of legal services.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training, with the theme: “Creating Synergy around Police Force Order 20 and the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme,” was held at SCIID, Panti conference hall, Yaba, on Thursday.
Executive Director, REPLACE, Mrs Felicitas Aigbogun-Brai, said that the training was for police officers on Force Order 20, which allowed lawyers to provide legal services within police divisions and police formations.
“This training aims at building capacity of the officers on human rights principles and the Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS) under Order No. 20.
“Police officers already have human rights training in their curriculum at training schools, especially the senior ranks, but the junior ranks need more training, which is where we have come in.
“We give them retraining as they grow through the ranks. We are actually trying to build our partnership with the police so that we can attend their weekly meetings and talk to them on human rights issues,” she added.
Aigbogun-Brai said that 17 participants were selected from the legal department of the police formations in Lagos.
She, however, urged senior police officers to train others on human rights and provision of legal services.
ROLAC Lagos Coordinator, Mrs Ajibola Ijimakinwa, said that she was pleased that the training was happening, saying that it would help create awareness on access to justice for the vulnerable.
“We are happy to be giving this support at the police station level. This is a support that is dear to us and we will keep following up on the number of the vulnerable people in custody so that we can help,” she said.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of State Criminal Intelligence Investigation Department (SCIID), DCP Kayode Adegoke, represented by CSP Owobo Rotimi, also commended the organisers of the training.
Adegoke, who said that there had been changes in the modus operandi of the officers who had participated in previous trainings, urged the participating policemen to make effective use of the training.
“The organisers are reminding us of our duties because some of us know this Force Order 20 but few of us know about the review. Please take whatever you learn here seriously and share with your colleagues,” he said.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Mr Frank Odita, who spoke about the functions of the Order, said that learning more about it would help produce professional police personnel.
Odita added that police personnel should not leave the image building job to the Public Relations Officers (PROs) alone but see themselves as the change agent that would exhibit the positive activities of the police.
“When I was the Police Public Relations Officer, I realised that we were having problem with the public because they were not getting feedbacks from the police.
“Most cases shouldn’t be in court if properly vetted. So I expect, as police lawyers, that you will be assisting other barristers to ensure that prosecutions are done diligently.
“Force Order 20 tells you clearly the duties of a lawyer in the police, which is to provide free legal services to arrested suspects in police custody,” he said.
Odita urged the participants to put the knowledge gained from the training to use and be the change agents so that the knowledge would not be useless. (NAN)