By Onozure Dania
Tony Cross, a legal consultant with Justice for All, J4A, a non governmental organization, has said the treatment meted out on a suspect in police station mostly depend on the standard laid down by the Divisional Police Officer of the station.
He noted that excessive use of force, lack of accountability and breach of suspect’s legal rights will determine the level of public confidence in the police. This was coming as J4A indicated its readiness to offer free legal services for prison inmates awaiting trial in Nigerian Prisons.
Cross, who also is a legal adviser to J4A, stated that there is a public perception within section of the community that once a suspect is taken to a police station they will be subjected to all kinds of ill-treatments by the police and also denied their legal rights.
Cross made his observations at a programme organized jointly by the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Department for International Development, DFID and J4A on, “Free Legal Aids to Suspects in Police Detention.”
He added that the way suspects are treated when arrested or during detention at the police station is determined by the standard of behaviour set by the DPO.
Cross said that when suspect is brought to the police station, he should be treated in accordance with the law, without the use of excessive force.
He maintained that the charge room officer should be accountable for the treatment of all suspects brought to the station and those who have been detained, adding that all members of the divisional management team at the police station should exercise proper supervision within the charge room office.
”Effective procedures must be introduced with document and the handling and treatment of suspects by the charge room officer,” he said.
Cross also said that the police has been granted extensive legal authority to arrest and detain suspects but that these powers should be used legally and professionally in the interest of the Nigerian Police Force, so that suspects are treated with respect and also given all their appropriate legal rights in accordance with the law.