By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN) Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, has directed Chief Judges of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to order Chief Magistrates conduct inspection of Police Stations, every month.
The Inspection will be also extended to other places of detention within their territorial jurisdiction other than prisons.
This move and direction is with the view to check complaints of incidents of Police brutality, inordinate arrests, detention and extortion of innocent Nigerians by Police officers across the country,
In a statement signed by the Media Aid to Onnoghen, Awassam Bassey, the directive is in line with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
According the statement, the directive is contained in the newly issued Practice Direction on the Role of Magistrates in curbing Police Brutality Under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
The CJN also directed Chief Judges to set up appropriate mechanisms to ensure compliance with the stated provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act on police brutality and inordinate arrests among others.
Excerpt of the Practice Directions reads as follows, “I have observed, and received several complaints of the horrific incidents of Police brutality, inordinate arrest, detention and extortion of innocent Nigerians by Officers across the country.
“These incidents have assumed frightening proportions in recent times.
The Magistrate Courts are currently overwhelmed with cases of such brutality, inordinate arrests and detention of Citizens.
“As we approach election year, it is imperative that we curb these excesses through the instrumentality of the statutory powers of the courts.”
The statement also gave a highlight on the functions of a Magistrates over Police Stations in their jurisdictions according to Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
According to Section 34 (1) of the Act “The Chief Magistrate, or where there is no Chief Magistrate within the police division, any Magistrate designated by the Chief Judge for that purpose, shall, at least every month, conduct an inspection of police stations or other place of detention within his territorial jurisdiction other than prison.
Section 34 (2) further states: “During the visit, Magistrate may call for, and inspect, the record of arrest and direct the arraignment of the suspect.
“Where bail has been refused, grant bail to any suspect where appropriate if the offence for which the suspect is held, is within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate.”