70 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR recognizes the inalienable rights to which everyone is entitled by virtue of being human.
On the 70th anniversary of UDHR, the Ikorodu branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has chosen to give expression to the inalienable right of arrested persons to legal aid and assistance by launching the Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS). An initiative of Open Society Justice Initiative with the support and collaboration of Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
PDSS trains and deploys lawyers to police stations with a view to providing legal aid and assistance within the first 48 hours of arrest. Originally founded on a memorandum of understanding between the identified partners, PDSS is now recognized under Force Order 20 – an internal regulation of NPF.
In the build up to the official launch of PDSS in Ikorodu, Stanley Ibe (Open Society Justice Initiative), Felicitas Aigbogun-Brai (Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre – REPLACE) and Bamidele Ibikunle (LACON) took volunteer duty solicitors through a six module training programme to prepare them for the PDSS. In addition, Ikorodu branch had a series of sensitization meetings with the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) in Ikorodu to introduce PDSS and provide information on how interested members of the community can benefit from the scheme. The meetings also afforded the opportunity to inform the Area Commander and Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) about the scheme with particular reference to the implementation of Force Order 20.
Ikorodu branch of NBA will be working with the partner organizations to deliver this essential service to the people of Ikorodu beginning this human rights day.
NBA Ikorodu is the first branch of the Nigerian Bar Association to launch a duty solicitors scheme.