Vanguard (Lagos)

6 December 2012

Nigeria: Council Advocates Legal Represenatation for Suspects

Director — General of Legal Aid Council, Mrs Joy Bob-Manuel, has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to issue a Force Order, ordering policemen to inform suspects, upon arrest, of their rights to have their lawyers present during interrogation.

Bob-Manuel spoke at the review of the five years Police Duty Solicitors Scheme, PDSS, supported by Open Society Justice Initiative, OSJI, in Abuja, yesterday.

She noted that since most police officers have refused to inform suspects of their rights to have their lawyer present during interrogation, in addition to informing the suspect the reason for his/her arrest, which is a constitutional requirement, issuing a Force Order would help, since policemen to obey instructions handed down from their commands.

She said: "If the police IG should make it a Force Order, since the police runs a command structure, all important rights of Nigerians would be respected.

"Once a suspect is arrested, let his rights be read to him and let the family be contacted to get a lawyer for the suspect, since they (police) have refused to recognise the constitutional rights."

Former DG of the Council, Mrs Uju Hassan-Baba, who presented a review of the five years of PDSS review report, expressed concern that the judicial system was bogged with a lot of challenges, regretting that many in the system were not doing enough to make the system work well or have refused to make it work at all.

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