As lawyers, we owe a very great responsibility to our clients, the duty which creates a very strong inter-personal relationship. Nevertheless, it is also the duty of a lawyer to always be guided by the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007-herein after referred to as the RPC.
Some of the occasions, which even make some lawyers to go to any extent-legal or illegal- to defend the interests of their clients in the course of their professional duties. The most surprising thing is that such lawyers end up being responsible for the illegal conducts which are not even justifiable under professional ethics.
Some of these lawyers even get their practice license withdrawn and or suspended, while some even get themselves prosecuted for criminal offence and imprisoned and they have nothing for themselves while their families have to bear the long pains and agony, while the client has the right to walk away and or secure the services of another lawyer.
That is why this paper is written as a humble advice to lawyers including the writer, to take due caution in handling clients’ cases.
By the provisions of the RPC, Rule 1 is a leading code for lawyers which provides thus ‘A lawyer shall uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and shall not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner’.
Also, Rule 15(1) of the RPC has also laid down the foundation for every lawyer representing his client to do so within the bounds of the law. The said Rule 15 provides thus 1. ‘In his representation of a client, a lawyer may refuse to aid or participate in conduct that he believes to be unlawful even though there is some support for an argument that the conduct is legal’.
The remaining entire provisions of this Rule are also instructive to the facts that a lawyer is to represent his client within the bounds of the law.
Therefore, lawyers have to understand and know that there is no justification under the law for them to represent and proffer defence in such manner that the RPC and or the law prohibits and whatever happens, they shall take responsibility for the outcome or at best, as an accomplice.
Furthermore, it is very important that lawyers should always remember that they are criminally responsible for their actions. More so, they should know that there are those who would feel very ashamed to see their husband or uncle or brother or father being disgraced for unprofessional conduct or criminal offence out of misconducts.
Also, today, there are cases occurring almost every day of lawyers being found in one way or the other to have in the course of representing their clients committed one misconduct or the other. It also embarrasses their family members in the public and they are stigmatized for the wrong their loved one i.e. lawyer, has done.
Furthermore, the most prevailing misconduct among these lawyers as of today is forgery as even reportedly complained about by the Chief Justice of Nigeria of recent. Some of these lawyers have been reported to have forged court’s judgment, other documents, among others.
It is hoped that having said all the above in this paper, as brief as this paper is, the reader as well as all lawyers would consider their actions in relation to their relationship with their clients by acting always within the bounds of the law, no matter what their client is ready to offer or what they are likely to benefit from such misconduct.
Their integrity, image, molestation and stigmatization that their family members might likely suffer as a result of their misconduct should also be given a great consideration.
Police Public Complaints Response Unit (PCRRU): Assessment, Queries And Recommendations For An Improved Police System
For a time long a go, and up till this moment, there have been several complaints against some of the Nigeria police officers.
This situation might have made the Nigeria Police Force to create the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit-herein after referred to as PCRRU, to among other functions, handle and resolve the complaints of the Nigerian citizens against any erring police officer or any allegation against such police officer.
This paper is an attempt at assessing, raising queries and recommendations for an improved system of the Nigeria Police Force.
From the establishment of the PCRRU, it is very important to first appreciate the good efforts made by the Nigeria Police Force in the establishment of the PCRRU. Indeed, the current situation in Nigeria really requires and or deserves such institution or platform through which the members of the public can lodge their complaints for a quick resolution.
Without mentioning any part of the police force, this creation is commendable. More so, it is the belief of the writer of this paper that if this PCRRU is well managed and monitored, it would help in improving the Nigeria Police Force System.
Furthermore, the issue now is whether there is any quarterly assessment of the working of this PCRRU? In other words, is there any record kept of the number of complaints received by the Nigeria Police Force? How many of them have been resolved and how many are on-going?
Also, the writer of this paper would advise lawyers as well as members of the public to utilize the platform to resolve their complaints against any police officer, especially those complaints that they encounter at the police station.
More so, it is really a dangerous journey to embark on for a lawyer or any member of the public to argue and or confront a police officer in his office or while he is possessing ammunition. The best would be to utilize the PCRRU to resolve such complaints.
The writer of this paper had at several time, utilized this platform to resolve some of his complaints and it is his belief that if this platform is well managed and effectively monitored, thousands or millions of complaints by Nigerians would have been resolved and the police system would have been appreciated more than the condemnation that it receives at the moment from many of the members of the public.
Furthermore, the writer of this paper has always asked himself some few questions in inquiring into the composition of the members of the PCRRU. The question that needs to be asked are:
- What kind of officers are put in charge of the Unit?
- What kind of trainings do they receive and or have they received so as to effectively manage the Unit? Will there not be complaints against the Unit itself arising from the complaints lodged with the Unit?
Also, what happens where the complaint is against a very senior police officer who is higher in position than those members in the Unit? Will the members of the public or the complainant secure a deserved justice in this situation?
Will a complainant not be in a greater trouble in the hands of the police officer concerned for reporting a complaint against him?
From the experience of the writer of this paper in using the PCRRU, these questions have not been resolved in reality as at some occasions, reporting a complaint have always posed and triggered further annoyance of the concerned officer who then put the complainant and or his lawyer through a most difficult situation or condition with a serious strictness all in the name of complying with due process.
The writer of this paper has observed that despite a complaint of such instance, the PCRRU is left with no solution in resolving and or saving the complainant in the hands of such police officer especially where it involves the Divisional Police Officer – herein after referred to as DPO – who then uses his high authority to rescue his men from the allegations made against them, out of sight of the PCRRU, while the concerned officer complained against stand and put up a defensive statement totally believed by his boss who then condemn the complainant for reporting his complaints to the PCRRU.
At some of the occasions, the writer of this paper had reported the aftermath of his complaints to the PCRRU but he had to abandon the PCRRU annoyingly in order to utilize other means of resolving his complaints and or forego his complaints because of the way the whole situation then began to turn into! How many Nigerians are in such situation like that of the writer of this paper?!
Most of the times, the suffering arise from the Head in charge of the police station who is always contacted about the report of the complaints made against a police officer or some police officers under his control.
What then is expected really, than for him to take the side of his officers, in order to protect his own image and the complaint thereby becomes a frustrated fool and an inexperienced idiot for reporting. If it was the lawyer who reports, then the suspect-now his client- would bear the consequence.
And if it is a family member of the suspect, then the suspect bears the consequence too! The PCRRU in the assessment of the writer of this paper as a complainant, is not able to resolve this kind of problem.
So, it is recommended that more efforts are required by the PCRRU to preempt all these kinds of consequences in handling the complaints made.
Also, it is very interesting to inquire into the level of awareness of the existence of the PCRRU among the members of the public, especially those in the local areas?
How many of the members of the public are aware of the Unit and what it does and how complaints can be made?
It is suggested that rather than the unsolicited messages that members of the public get on their mobile phone numbers which are even annoying, the police can utilize this means on a continuous awareness by sending short messages on how to contact to report complaints against any police officer.
Furthermore, it is still unfavourable where the complainant calls and he has his airtime exhausted while making his complaints by phone call.
The writer of this paper therefore recommends that the complaints should be a free toll call without charge. However, such call should be effective and efficient.
Also, it is observed that the Unit does not follow up complaints despite having the complainant’s contact number and or details.
It is recommended that there should be a feedback/monitoring call to ensure that the complainant gets satisfactory services from the Unit against his complaints.
Also, it is recommended that officers assigned to the Unit should be persons of understanding, patience, mercy, etc. of good characters so as not to add to the injury complained about by the complainant and so that the complainant does not consider his utilizing the PCRRU as a waste of his time, finance and energy.
Finally, though, the PCRRU might not have been completely effective and efficient as of the moment, there is still hope that the authority in charge would consider the points made in this paper as a consideration for improvement in the Unit.
Also, the writer of this paper believes that with the existence of the PCRRU and an effective monitoring and management of same, the Nigeria Police Force and the police officers would be seen as in deed, a true friend of the public.
Also, from the research of the writer of this paper, complaints can be reported to the Unit against any police officer via the following:
Phone calls: 0805 700 0001 | 0805 700 0002
SMS and WhatsApp: 0805 700 0003
Email – email@example.com