Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Aliko Dankoli who is the senior police officer in charge Area D Command HQ, Mushin, Lagos State, has allegedly ordered a Lagos Magistrate to be locked up.
The incident reportedly happened on Monday 30 May 2022, when the female Magistrate (name withheld) visited the Command on routine check of suspects in the cell. The visit was based on the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) which is meant to decongest police cells.
The Nigeria Police, during the tenure of former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, had on 21 Sept 2017, launched Force Order 20, to institutionalize the PDSS. It was established to address the crisis of irrational and long-drawn pre-trial detentions in Nigeria.
Force Order 20 addresses “free legal services for arrested and/or detained persons in police formations” and institutes the PDSS as a country-wide mechanism for its delivery. It expands provision of legal services in police stations by ensuring prompt access to Duty Solicitors for suspects. It implements the constitutional provision of access to counsel in police stations across Nigeria.
Unfortunately, on Monday 30 May 2022 at Area D Command HQ in Mushin, members of the PDSS met resistance which resulted in the detention of the Magistrate that led the team to the Command on the routine check.
ACP Dankoli was having a briefing with the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) within Area D Command when he received info that the Magistrate had come to the Command on a routine check of the cells, said to be jam-packed with suspects.
He was said to have become angry as he got up and ordered the arrest of the Magistrate and detention inside the cell to the surprise of the senior police officers, including his Second-in-Command, who was said to be aware of the visit of the Magistrate to the Command.
This led to serious disagreement between ACP Dankoli and his Second-in-Command and there was confusion at the Command, which led to a temporary breakdown of law and order.
It took the intervention of the State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi before the Magistrate was later released and allowed to go home.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent of Police (SP), Benjamin Hundeyin, said the story is nothing, but fiction. He said at no time did the Area Commander detain or attempted to detain the Magistrate. He said the police would never engage in such disrespect to the judiciary.
“The Lagos State Police Command contacted the judiciary. The Lagos State Judiciary confirmed that there was no such thing and neither was the Magistrate prevented from carrying out her cell inspection exercise. We hereby state unequivocally that any attempt to cause disaffection between the police and the judiciary will be fiercely resisted. We remain worthy partners in the justice sector.