THE Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr Mohammed Adamu has pledged to priortise the welfare of police lawyers through improved funding for the Legal Department of the force.
Adamu disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at the opening of a conference for Nigeria Police lawyers.
He said the conference was organised for the leadership of the Nigeria police to interface with lawyers across all ranks in the force.
The IGP said the idea was to fashion out ways to maximally utilise the broad pool of qualified and sound body of legal minds in the Nigeria police
He said the force had prided itself asone ofthe public institutions with the highest number of lawyers in the country.
According to him, it is indeed on record that some of these lawyers have successfully prosecuted landmark cases, some of which have become references in legal practice in the country.
“Unfortunately, in spite of this organisational advantage, we have over the years been underutilising the capacity of our lawyers. The time has now come for us to alter this narrative.
“The new orientation envisioned for the police under our leadership is that which is driven by respect for rule of law and professional proficiency in the investigative and prosecution functions of the Nigeria Police.
“The achievement of these require that the Legal Department of the Nigeria Police be reorganised, refocused and empowered to effectively lead the process,” he said.
He said the idea was to have a police force that embodied the values of fairness, justice and equity.
According to him, this is informed by the reality that policing activities in a democratic society require accountability which is indeed demanded for by an increasingly enlightened and diverse citizenry.
“In this regard, it remains the responsibility of police lawyers to guide investigators in the gathering, preservation and presentation of evidence.
“It is also the duty of the lawyers to ensure that rights of persons who become the subject of police preventive and investigative procedures, be they suspects or witnesses of crime, are respected.
“Much as actions have been taken to address the issues underlying civil actions and awards against the Police, there is need to strengthen our legal department,” he added.
In his remark, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Legal Section, Mr Augustine Sanomi, said the section had over the years been faced with numerous challenges.
He identified shortage of manpower, lack of motivation, poor funding, lack of office accommodation and reference library in commands and formations as major factors militating against the performance of lawyers in the section.
Sanomi called on the leadership of the force to put up steps to address the challenges to ensure optimum service delivery in the section.