I write to you with utmost concern and urgency regarding the deplorable state of labour rights and professional recognition of legal/human rights officers in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). As a citizen of this great nation, it is disheartening to witness the neglect and abuse of these dedicated professionals who play a vital role in upholding justice and promoting human rights within the force.
Nigeria, being the most populous black nation on earth and a beacon of democracy, should not tolerate such primitive practices that not only bring national embarrassment but also tarnish our international reputation. The need to address these injustices and abnormalities cannot be overstated._
It is a well-known fact that rank-and-file personnel in the NPF, such as medical and engineering professionals, have successfully advocated for improved remuneration and proper professional ranking in recent years. However, the same cannot be said for the legal/human rights officers within the force. Lawyers in the employment of co-ordinate institutions such as the EFCC, NSCDC, NDLEA, and FRSC enjoy appropriate ranking in the senior cadre, as demanded by labour laws and universal conventions. It is disheartening to observe that the NPF lags far behind in complying with these global practices, disregarding the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners under the Legal Practitioners Act 2007._
The Police Acts 2020, in Section 66(3), stipulated that at least one qualified lawyer should be assigned to each police division in Nigeria, responsible for promoting human rights compliance. However, even when lawyers are posted to these divisions, approximately 90% of them remain junior officers. Both the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) are aware of this issue and have been calling for their long-overdue upgrade to the superintendent positions. This upgrade is crucial to ensure respect for legal advice and instructions, and to enable compliance with human rights observance._
The disparity between the treatment of lawyers and other experts within the police force is evident. While professionals in various fields have been rightly upgraded and promoted, lawyers/human rights officers have been unjustly relegated to junior positions. This workplace discrimination and abuse of expertise not only undermines the morale and effectiveness of legal/human rights officers but also sabotages efforts to curtail and mitigate human rights abuses by the police._
The lawyers/human rights officers posted to divisions and area commands continue to discharge their professional roles diligently, despite their junior rank. Some have even lost their lives in the line of duty while waiting for the due upgrade in recognition. The continued neglect of their professional advancement perpetuates a system where their legal advice/instructions are despised and disregarded by rank-and-file officers. This undermines the very essence of their role and renders their efforts in promoting human rights compliance futile._
Moreover, the downgrading of lawyers/human rights officers undermines the administration of justice in the country. Section 106 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 places significant responsibilities on these officers for the prosecution of criminal cases in all courts. However, it is highly embarrassing and degrading to see these professionals announce their appearance in superior courts as corporals or sergeants. This not only diminishes their self-esteem but also tarnishes the reputation of the legal profession and the esteemed Nigeria Police Force._
*In light of the foregoing circumstances, I implore you to intervene urgently and address the following demands:*
Promoting legal/human rights officers in the Nigeria Police Force to their deserved superintendent ranks, in line with their professional qualifications and expertise.
Ensuring compliance with labour laws and universal conventions by adhering to a prestigious ranking of legal practitioners within the NPF, as practiced by corporate institutions worldwide._
_Providing a conducive and secure work environment for legal/human rights officers, where their professional opinions are respected, valued, and incorporated into decision-making processes._
_Implementing the provisions of the Police Acts 2020, particularly Section 66(3), by assigning qualified lawyers to each police division in Nigeria, and empowering them to promote human rights compliance by officers and men of the division._
_Acknowledging and rectifying the disparity in treatment between legal/human rights officers and professionals in other fields within the police force, by ensuring equitable promotions and opportunities for all._
_Recognizing the crucial role of legal/human rights officers in police investigations and prosecutions, and providing them with the necessary authority and support to effectively carry out their duties._
_Ending the practice of downgrading legal/human rights officers during court appearances, and ensuring that they are accorded the respect and recognition commensurate with their qualifications and professional responsibilities._
_Protecting the labour rights of legal/human rights officers, including job security, fair remuneration, and opportunities for career advancement._
_Implementing reforms within the Nigeria Police Force that promote professionalism, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law.
In conclusion, I beseech you, as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, to take immediate action to address these pressing issues. Upholding the labour rights of legal/human rights officers and recognizing their professional expertise is not only a matter of justice but also vital for the effective functioning of the Nigeria Police Force and the promotion of human rights in our great nation.
I kindly request your urgent intervention in this matter and assure you of my highest regards. I remain hopeful that you will take the necessary steps to protect the labour rights of legal/human rights officers and bring about the much-needed reform within the Nigeria Police Force.
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.
Comrade Victor Ojei popularly called Wong Box_
Lead Activist for Young Nigerian Rights OrganizationBEWARE All Rights Reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without prior express written permission from Juliana Francis