Daily Trust - - LAW -

On the 2nd of Oc­to­ber, 2015 at the NBA monthly gen­eral meet­ing held at the High Court premises, Bida Road, lawyers in at­ten­dance were in shock and awe when we heard that a young lawyer was held in po­lice cus­tody for three days; he was re­fused food or as­sess to make a phone call; he’s legs and hands were hand­cuffed, and was forced to sign a con­fes­sional state­ment that he as­saulted a po­lice of­fi­cer be­fore he was re­leased on bail.”

The Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, Kaduna Branch upon dis­cov­er­ing how a young lawyer was man­han­dled and mal­treated by the Nige­ria Po­lice Force de­cided to seek jus­tice on be­half of the le­gal pro­fes­sion. On the 5th of Oc­to­ber, 2015 a let­ter of com­plaint was writ­ten to the of­fice of the com­mis­sioner of po­lice, Kaduna Divi­sion stat­ing the de­mands of the branch amongst which is a pub­lic apol­ogy to the lawyer in­volved in two na­tional dailies, re­ceipt of the said com­plaint was ac­knowl­edged same day.

On the 15th of Oc­to­ber, 2015 ten {10} days af­ter the let­ter of com­plaint was de­liv­ered and a re­sponse yet to be re­ceived from the Nige­ria Po­lice Force, the branch ex­ec­u­tives held a press con­fer­ence at the High Court premises with a large turnout of mem­bers of the branch {es­pe­cially young lawyers} in at­ten­dance re­stat­ing the branch’s de­mands to the NPF. There­after, all in at­ten­dance marched in sol­i­dar­ity to the Po­lice Force Head­quar­ters to seek au­di­ence with the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice.

Plac­ards with in­scrip­tions such as, “Rule of Law not Rule of Force”, “No to Po­lice bru­tal­ity”, “Jus­tice for Richard”, “No to im­punity” et al were car­ried by lawyers to show our dis­plea­sure at such in­hu­man and de­grad­ing treat­ment.

Luck­ily the C.O.P was on his way out when mem­bers in at­ten­dance ap­proached the gate, he was sur­prised to see such large num­ber of lawyers at his door step and in­quired what was go­ing on. It was there and then that the in­ci­dent came to his knowl­edge, he was equally sur­prised at such bar­baric acts be­ing done to a le­gal prac­ti­tioner by a po­lice of­fi­cer and in­vited all mem­bers of NBA Kaduna Branch to the Force con­fer­ence room to fully dis­cuss the mat­ter.

The young lawyer in­volved was asked to nar­rate his side of the story in the pres­ence of the C.O.P, the Di­vi­sional Po­lice Of­fi­cer of the sta­tion where it hap­pened and the po­lice of­fi­cer who car­ried out the act. In his defence, the po­lice of­fi­cer said the lawyer slapped him at the po­lice sta­tion, which the C.O.P said can­not be true “no sane man would go to a po­lice sta­tion and slap a po­lice of­fi­cer”. There­after the provost of the Force head­quar­ters was di­rected to take the Po­lice of­fi­cer and lock him up for the time the young lawyer spent in po­lice cus­tody. A meet­ing be­tween the branch ex­ec­u­tives and the NPF to fur­ther dis­cuss the is­sue was sched­uled.

Lawyers in at­ten­dance used the op­por­tu­nity to nar­rate one or two sce­nar­ios were po­lice of­fi­cers either frus­trate bail ap­pli­ca­tions at the po­lice sta­tion be­cause a lawyer was in­volved or how an­tag­o­nis­tic some po­lice of­fi­cers get when they find out a lawyer has been in­volved in the case he is in­ves­ti­gat­ing. So it was de­cided that there is need for syn­ergy be­tween the Nige­ria Po­lice Force and Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, as one can­not func­tion ef­fec­tively with­out the other. The C.O.P also as­sured mem­bers that a sig­nal would be sent to all po­lice sta­tions in the divi­sion that once a lawyer vis­its a po­lice sta­tion on the is­sue of bail for a client in de­ten­tion, he should be taken to see the Di­vi­sional Po­lice Of­fi­cer of the sta­tion.

The Nige­ria Po­lice Force, a fun­da­men­tal in­sti­tu­tion in the pro­tec­tion of life and prop­erty of Nige­rian cit­i­zens ought to per­form its func­tions in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Chap­ter IV of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion of the Fed­eral Re­pub­lic of Nige­ria {as amended} which pro­vides for fun­da­men­tal rights, among which is right to dig­nity of hu­man per­son and right to per­sonal lib­erty.

We must all put hands on deck to en­sure mother Nige­ria has a bet­ter fu­ture for her in­hab­i­tants.

Do send your com­ment{s}, ob­ser­va­tion{s} and rec­om­men­da­tion{s} to daniel­bu­lus­son@gmail.com or like us on www.face­book.com/ younglay­w­er­scol­umn

From left: Ms. Pancy Tlakula and Jus­tice Mary Pe­ter Odili of the Supreme Court.

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