Back to overview

RoLAC supports the establishment of PDSS Advisory Committee Across States in Nigeria

March 21, 2024 • By Murkthar Suleiman
The International IDEA State Team lead, Anambra States Nigeria and other staff members of the team with the PDSS committee members in Anambra State Nigeria. Image credit: International IDEA.
With support from the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) Programme, the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Force have intensified efforts to ensure that crime suspects have access to justice while in detention through the provision of legal aid under the Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS).

The PDSS is a justice service delivery mechanism supported by the Legal Aid Act 2011 and Police Force Order 20 and intended to protect the rights of crime suspects who have been arrested and detained by the police, enabling their access to legal advice and representation. The PDSS ensures that lawyers are on call at police detention centres to support bail applications, to ensure that detainees are not pressured to make statements under duress, to ensure that police stations comply with judicial directives, and to ensure that suspects have legal representation in court. 

To strengthen the effectiveness of the PDSS, as well as maximise its impact and ensure its replication across more states in Nigeria, in collaboration with civil society organisations, RoLAC facilitated advocacy and meetings that fostered dialogue and a renewed commitment to partnership between the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Force. In December 2023, RoLAC also supported a national conference that examined the challenges of the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme and key recommendations for enhancing its reach and impact. Police Public Relations Officers attended the conference across all police commands in Nigeria. They made the commitment to return to their state Commands and enforce police compliance with the provisions of Force Order 20 and the Legal Aid Act, including the establishment of State PDSS Advisory Committees as a mechanism for monitoring effectiveness.     

RoLAC’s support has already begun yielding significant results with the establishment of the PDSS Advisory Committees in seven states between January and March 2024 in five RoLAC states  (Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano, Lagos) and also in 2 non-RoLAC states (Kwara and Ogun). The state PDSS Advisory Committee comprises the State Commissioner of Police, the State Legal Aid Council Representative, Representatives of the state Judiciary, the Bar Association, the Human Rights Commission and CSOs. During the inauguration of the PDSS Advisory Committee in Lagos, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Adegoke Fayoade, pledged his continued support for the effective delivery of the PDSS in the state and promised that the Lagos State Police Command will continue to respect and protect the rights of all citizens in accordance with the law and due process.  

The establishment of State PDSS Advisory Committees, signals a shift in the level of government commitment to protecting the rights of pre-trial detainees in Nigeria and represents a success story as RoLAC continues its pursuit to bring about transformative change in the delivery and availability of justice services in Nigeria.

About the authors

Murkthar Suleiman
Communications Officer
Close tooltip