May 28, 2024

Third Edition of Citizens Accountability Rights Forum: Magistrate Urges Police To Sensitize People About Their Rights

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Third Edition of Citizens Accountability Rights Forum: Magistrate Urges Police To Sensitize People About Their Rights

A call has gone to people, most especially those who find themselves in police stations, to demand for lawyers before writing statements at the stations.

This call was made by a retired Chief Magistrate, Taiwo Oyedele at the Citizens’ Accountability And Rights Forum jointly organized by the Committee for The Defence of Human Rights(CDHR) and Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) in Lagos on Thursday.

This month’s edition, which is third in the series, is themed: ‘Safety And Security in Lagos State: Efficiency And Effectiveness; Issues and Challenges.”

President, CDHR and chairman, Cacol, Debo Adeniran

Retired Magistrate Oyedele stated this against the backdrop of many courts cases, where people complain about judges and allege that they are forced to write statements or in some cases that police write the statements for them.

She then urged the police to sensitise the people about their fundamental human rights.

Oyedele further stated that though some people know this right, many people are not aware of their rights as citizens, saying that they should ensure that they have their lawyers with them at the police stations before they write statements to make the works of judges and magistrates easier.

She then commended the Lagos State Government for providing human rights desks at all the police stations in the state.

Earlier in his submission, SP Ajayi Adebayo, from Area F Police Command, said that it’s expected of citizens to speak whenever they see any security threat so that the police can act swiftly.

He added that the era of police torturing suspects is gone, “we don’t torture suspects again,” he said.

According to SP Adebayo, police now do their jobs in a professional way, and they are conscious of the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 signed into law by former president Muhammadu Buhari.

“The objective of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 is to prohibit punishment by torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The Act criminalises torture and protects victims and witnesses of torture.

Retired Chief Magistrate, Taiwo Oyedele

“The Act further stipulates that any person who commits torture, shall be liable, on conviction, to 25 years imprisonment. If death occurs as a result of the torture, the person involved shall be charged with murder,” he said.

SP Adebayo further said that there is Police Public Complaints Unit incase there’s complaints from civilians or members of the public or when the person is not comfortable with the way officers interacted with him or her.

In his opening remarks, President of CDHR and Chairman of CACOL, Comrade Debo Adeniran spoke on the reasons law enforcement agents contradict fundamental human rights.

Representative of Commissioner of Information, Olajide Atansuyi

Comrade Adeniran said that it is believed that many agents of the government are doing their best, but that their best seems to contract fundamental human rights, and sought to know what could have caused such and the solution to it.

Speaking about Security & Safety, the Director of Social Media in the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Dr. Olajide Atansuyi, who represented the state Commissioner of Information, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, at the event, said that security and safety is the responsibility of everybody.

“As a matter of fact, we should be our neighbours’ keepers, when it comes to security.

“We should not abandon our security, including preventing domestic accidents because security is everybody’s business. Another thing we can do is to collaborate with security agents and co-operate with them on security.

“For instance, if fire incident occurs in a particular place and people fail to clear the road and fire service officers could not get to the scene of the incident in time, it would be disastrous. At end of the day, people will blame fire service for getting to the scene late.

Representative of Femi Falana, Mark Adebayo

“It should be noted that an incident like that requires many people to be around, especially those that want to help. But those that want to loot, and those that want to look block the right of way of fire service officers and other security agents,” he said.

According to him, security is not for the security agents alone, there must be robust engagements between the citizens and the security agents, especially when there is an emergency.

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