BY Chris Ochayi
ABUJA—The Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Osita Chidoka has called on the legal officers from military and paramilitary organisations to collaborate on issues affecting the fundamental human rights of the citizens, with a view to reducing cases of human rights abuses by them.
Chidoka, who made the call while speaking at the 2011 FRSC Annual Lawyers Conference in Enugu, said there was need for legal officers from military and paramilitary organisations to come together to brainstorm on issues affecting the fundamental human rights
He said: “As custodians of law and order, it is important that legal officers from the military and paramilitary organisations come together regularly to discuss issues that affect the rights of the citizenry.
“Apart from creating awareness on issues of human rights abuses, the public could also become sensitised on the challenges the law enforcement officers face in enforcing the laws. This conference is a positive development, and I hope it will be sustained.”
Chidoka pledged to work hard to sustain the image earned by the Corps over the years, adding that this would be done by laying greater emphasis on education, rather than enforcement as the Corps’ operational strategy.
“It is in line with this core value that we have remained committed to sustaining the use of education in our campaigns. And it is for that reason that even with amendments done to the original laws setting up the Corps which empowered our personnel to bear arms, we exercise restraint in arming them,” he stated.
While calling on officers, especially patrol teams to be civil in their approaches to law enforcement, stating that under no circumstances should they compromise the civil image of the Corps, the Corps Marshal added, “we believe and insist that enforcement should form the last line of our operational strategies and unless enlightenment tools have been firmly exhausted, we would not embark on enforcement. This in fact, has been our guiding principle and we hope to stick to it”.
“We are convinced by the results we are getting from this novel operational strategy and believe that if sustained, it is capable of addressing the challenges of human rights abuse by the security agencies,” he further stated.
The Corps Marshal further charged participants to carefully look at all the legal issues affecting the Corps, discuss them and proffer appropriate solutions as well as seizing the opportunity provided by the conference to look at the framework guiding the operation of the Corps, examine areas of necessary amendments and deal with cases of lacuna. He specifically called on the legal officers of the Corps serving in the various Commands to discuss their peculiar problems and proffer common solutions to them.
In addition, he called on the participants from other services to feel free to share their peculiar experiences and knowledge with their counterparts from the Corps in order to find common solutions to the legal challenges affecting the different services and Nigeria in general.
“It is my hope that at the end of the conference, you will come up with useful recommendations that could further improve the legal framework as well as ethical conduct of the lawyers handling all legal matters brought to them,” he stated.
The three day conference which has as its theme, “Safer Roads, Fuller Lives by Law,” is being attended by lawyers from FRSC, legal officers from the military, paramilitary and civil society organisations with papers on relevant legal subjects being presented by experts in the field. The conference was declared open by the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi.