Ben Dunno, Warri
Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Peter Mrakpor, has advised victims of alleged police brutality, illegal arrest and detention as well as other forms of violation of fundamental human rights to seek redress in court.
He gave the advice when he received the chairman and executives of Delta State chapter of Committee for Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Prince Kehinde Taiga, who were in his office to express concern over the growing rate of human rights abuses in the state.
Reacting to the allegation that the Ministry of justice is being used as an instrument to stall legal proceedings on rights violations in the state, the attorney-general, noted that there was no truth in the claim, as the state was more than ever committed to ensuring citizens’ rights are protected.
According to him, “the administration of the criminal justice law has been domesticated by the state and as such it has drastically reduced the time for rendering of legal advice by the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) to 30 days.”
He explained that visitation of magistrates to police cells was a statutory provision, which he emphasised does not require the consent of the chief judge before magistrates can embark on such exercise.
He decried the poor funding of the Nigeria Police and the prison services by the Federal government and advocated the establishment of state police, arguing that the tier of government constitutionally empowered to control and fund the police was not doing so devotedly.
Earlier in his opening remark, the Chairman of Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Prince Taiga, urged the law enforcement agents to show more respect to the rights of people while carrying out their duty of enforcing law and order.
He accused some law-enforcement agencies particularly the Nigeria Police of illegal arrest and detention, brutality and complexity in the remand of suspects unjustly in prison custody.
The human rights activist also condemned the slow-pace of criminal trials and incessant adjournments of cases, in order to frustrate the efforts of the victims seeking justice in cases of right abuses.
The CDHR chairman equally accused the Ministry of Justice officials of acting as ‘consultants’ to defendants or their cronies to fast track legal opinions and pleaded with the attorney-general to accelerate the process of rendering of legal opinion when duplicate files of defendants are forwarded to the ministry from the magistrates courts.
He appealed to the commissioner of justice to address the issue of prison congestion and poor detention facilities, and to also prevail on the chief judge of the state to set up a panel of magistrates to be visiting detention facilities in order to checkmate the excesses of law enforcement agents.