The Chief Magistrates’ inability to visit police stations and other detention facilities on a regular basis, according to human rights attorney Femi Falana, SAN, is to blame for the impunity in law enforcement agencies.
Falana recalled that he had attempted to persuade the human rights Committees of the more than 128 branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to mobilize the Chief Magistrates and accompany them to police stations, but the efforts had been unsuccessful. The release was titled, “Impunity of law enforcement agencies caused by lawyers and judges.”
The renowned human rights lawyer advised the NBA to stop wasting “hundreds of millions of Naira to organise wasteful annual bar conferences and law week programmes at the expense of the liberty of the generality of our people.”
Falana said, “Lawyers and judges are to blame for the impunity of law enforcement officers in Nigeria. Two laws require Chief Magistrates to conduct monthly visit to all police stations while Judges designated by the CJ of FHC are to visit all other detention facilities in the country.
“During the visit, suspects may be released, granted bail or ordered to be arraigned in the appropriate courts. All my efforts to get the human rights Committees of the over 128 branches of the NBA (in the 36 states and FCT) to mobilise CMs and accompany them to the police stations have proved abortive.
“When the CJ of FHC turned down my request to designate judges to conduct the monthly visits I sued him. The case has been subjected to unending adjournments since it is not a political case. However, I am convinced that the anti-graft agencies and other security agencies would have been forced to stop illegal arrest and primitive investigation of suspects if lawyers and judges have ensured the implementation of section 34 of ACJA and section 70 of Police Establishment Act.
“Every year, we waste hundreds of millions of Naira to organise wasteful annual bar conferences and law week programmes at the expense of the liberty of the generality of our people.”