By Bayo Akinlade Esq
Our courts have now been on lockdown for the whole of April because of the agitation for an Independent Judiciary.
The strike has significantly affected the Administration of Justice system in Nigeria and invariably brought a lot of hardship to many people and businesses.
Whether the sacrifices made by those affected by the strike will pay off is something that is yet to be seen. Many across all sectors of our polity have supported the strike while others believe the strike was planned at the wrong time and that JUSUN should back down for now and call off the strike.
Whether or not JUSUN calls off the strike is a matter beyond us as lawyers and litigants but the question is: What can a lawyer do at a time like this especially with regard to the Administration of Criminal Justice?
Let me narrow this down to Arrests and Detention by the POLICE . We are in a situation where there are no courts to go to after the police effects an arrest of a suspect. The Police cannot also detain the suspect for more than 24hrs so we now have a covid 19 situation here which prevailed during the lockdown in 2020. With no courts to go to, our police Detention centers are overcrowded which in itself breeds more covid 19 cases.
This is where the Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS) comes in to save the day.
A Duty Solicitors should use this JUSUN Strike to become more relevant to the society and help our Administration of Criminal Justice system by ensuring that citizens’ rights are protected.
This is the time for the police to prove to the citizens that they are indeed a friend to the people and that they themselves abide by the laws of the land regarding their powers to arrest and detain.
Duty Solicitors should use this opportunity to go to the police stations to do their duty by ensuring that no person is arrested and detained unlawfully, to ensure that the rights of suspects are not violated and to facilitate the bail of suspects being detained.
This is a scared duty for us lawyers. We may not like the ongoing Strike by JUSUN but we can make it count for something if we use our time, talent and treasure to help those in need.
Go to the police stations today as a Duty Solicitor, assist the police, mediate conflicts and protect our constitution.
It’s a probono service, a worthy cause and a divine commitment to promoting justice and the Rule of Law.
For more details on PDSS please contact your nearest NBA Branch or the office of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria in your State
PDSS is back by the Police Force Order 20, the Nigerian Constitution and by many other Government Institutions like the National Human Rights Commission, NYSC, National Orientation Agency, The Ministry of Justice, The Judiciary etc. It is also backed up by organisations and NGOs like the Nigerian Bar Association, REPLACE and Justice Reform Project.