• It is a farce, police react
It was a case of breaching procedural rules guiding rule of law in the country, as a power-drunk senior police officer in charge of Area D Command headquarters in Mushin, Lagos State, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Aliko Dankoli, allegedly ordered locking up of a Lagos Magistrate.
Dankoli had on Monday, May 30 ordered that a female Magistrate, name withheld, who reportedly visited the Command on a routine check of suspects in the cell-based on the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme to decongest the police cell, be detained. The Magistrate is in Ikeja Division
CP Abiodun Alabi
The Nigeria Police under the leadership of former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, had on September 21, 2017, launched Force Order 20, to institutionalise the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS), in the Nigeria Police.
PDSS was established to address the crisis of irrational and interminable pre-trial detention in Nigeria.
A Force Order is a statutory instrument under the Police Act. The Police Act is the law that regulates the operations and powers of the NPF. Force Orders are made by the IGP and have a nationwide effect.
Force Order 20 addresses “free legal services for arrested and/or detained persons in police formations” and institutes the PDSS as a country-wide mechanism for its delivery. It expands the provision of legal services in police stations by ensuring prompt access to Duty Solicitors for suspects. It implements the constitutional promise of access to counsel in police stations in Nigeria.
However, Lagos State Government had adopted the scheme in the state, during the COVID-19 lockdown and has been making progress.
Unfortunately, on Monday, May 30 at Area D Command Headquarters in Mushin, members of the PDSS met a resistance, which led to the detention of the Magistrate, who led the team to the Command as a routine check.
ACP Dankoli was having a briefing with the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) within the Area D Command when he received information that the Magistrate had come to the Command on a routine check of the cells, said to be jam-packed with suspects.
He was said to have become angry as he got up and ordered the arrest of the Magistrate and detention inside the cell to the surprise of the senior police officers, including his Second-in-Command, who was said to be aware of the visit of the Magistrate to the Command.
This led to serious disagreement between ACP Dankoli and his Second-in-Command and there was confusion at the Command, which led to a temporary breakdown of law and order.
It was not certain if the matter had been resolved between the Police and the Lagos State Judiciary, which actually sent the Magistrate for routine duty at the Command.
It took the intervention of the State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi before the Magistrate was later released and allowed to go home having been humiliated at the Command.
MEANWHILE, the Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent of Police (SP), Benjamin Hundeyin, said the story is nothing, but fiction. He said at no time did the Area Commander detain or attempted to detain the Magistrate. He said the police would never engage in such disrespect to the judiciary.
“The Lagos State Police Command did the needful and contacted the judiciary. The Lagos State Judiciary confirmed that there was no such thing and neither was the Magistrate prevented from carrying out her cell inspection exercise. We hereby state unequivocally that any attempt to cause disaffection between the police and the judiciary will be fiercely resisted. We remain worthy partners in the justice sector.
“The Command enjoins Lagosians to disregard the story as officers and men under the stewardship of CP Abiodun Alabi, will continue to be professionals and uphold the rule of law at all times.”