Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), has directed all chief magistrates across the country to inspect police detention facilities in their areas on a monthly basis.
In a memo dated June 20, 2018, Onnoghen said complaints of “horrific incidents” of police brutality of innocent Nigerians have reached frightening proportions.
The nation’s chief law officer said magistrate courts are currently overwhelmed with cases of 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 court,” the chief justice wrote in response to a letter by some lawyers.
He added that the administration of criminal justice act (ACJA) has given magistrates oversight functions over police stations in their jurisdictions.
Onnoghen directed the chief judges in each of the states to direct chief magistrates to at least every month, conduct an inspection of police stations or other places of detentions within their territorial jurisdiction other than prison.
“During the visit, magistrate may:
Call for, and inspect the record of arrest
Direct the arraignment of the suspect
Where bail has been refused, grant bail to any suspect where appropriate if the offense for which the suspect is held is within the jurisdiction of the magistrate.”
Earlier in the month, Ibrahim Idris, inspector general of police, approved the independent audit of detention cells of the police’ special anti-robbery squad (SARS) nationwide.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had requested access to cells in all police commands and formations in Nigeria in order to “oversee human rights situation of detainees”.