Indigent Suspects To Get Free Legal Services As ACJA Monitoring Committee Launches Scheme

Indigent Suspects To Get Free Legal Services As ACJA Monitoring Committee Launches Scheme

The Administration of Criminal Justice Act Monitoring Committee (ACJAMC) has launched a Police Station Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) to provide free legal services to vulnerable and indigent persons detained in police stations pending the completion of investigations and their arraignment in court.

Speaking during the launch in Abuja at the weekend, the secretary of the committee, Sulayman Dawodu said the committee, as the custodian of ACJA 2015 is charged with the responsibilities of ensuring speedy and effective dispensation of criminal Justice in the country.

The committee, Dawodu said is in synergy with stakeholders in the judiciary to provide free legal services to indigent people in the society as part of the ACJAMC’s contribution towards sustaining the PDSS and enhancing the effectiveness of criminal Justice system.

He said the birth of PDSS followed the launch of the Force Order 20, which officially gave the scheme the seal of partnership with the Police, authority to attend police stations in Nigeria and notoriety to specifically operate within the Nigeria Police Force across the country.

According to Dawodu, “Force Order 20 is the instrument of authority for duty Solicitors to carry out their duties without fear of reprisals or intimidation”.

ACJA, he pointed out will implement the scheme by stationing duty Solicitors, comprising of lawyers from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at designated police stations under the supervision of a senior Solicitor who will be recruited specifically for the purpose.

Speaking on the role of PDSS on the justice sector, the chairman of the Abuja chapter of the NBA, Mr. Bulus Atsen said the powers of the police need to be checked to avoid abuse and added that, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) created an opportunity for improvement in the criminal Justice law of the country.

He said the police has no power to obtain statement from suspects under duress, and stressed the need for the police to operate in line with the law for transparency and accountability in the administration of criminal Justice system.

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