Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE)

REPLACE evolved as a project to model interventions for managing pre-trial detention. REPLACE's Police Duty-Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) in Nigeria began in 2004 to respond to the problem of ‘awaiting trial persons’ in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. REPLACE was registered as a trust in December 2006. Activities of the organization have consisted of advocacy and initiation of strategies for effective criminal justice administration in Nigeria. These activities have been managed by REPLACE in partnership with the Legal Aid Council.

REPLACE aims to promote best practice in the criminal justice system in Nigeria. The project identified key points along the chain of criminal investigation and prosecution which drive the large numbers of pre-trial detainees and long periods of pre-trial detention.

The Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) is a REPLACE initiative developed to give immediate legal services to persons arrested and being held on detention in police stations pending completion of police  investigation or arraignment before a court. The services are provided by graduates in their first year after graduation under supervision of lawyers.

They are placed on a 24-hour call at designated police stations to provide legal assistance to suspects immediately after their arrest. The contact number oare displayed on posters at the designated police stations. They can also be reached through Offices of the Legal Aid Council in the project states.They advise suspects as to the rights available to them and assist suspects in apply for police bail.

The duty solicitors post bail applications on behalf of suspects at the magistrate courts if they are unable to secure police bail. In some cases where the application for bail at the magistrate court does not succeed, the duty solicitors file bail applications at the High Courts, through the Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement Procedure rules.

Project activities commenced in 2004, in four pilot states of Imo, Kaduna, Ondo and Sokoto. Activities were extended to Plateau and Rivers in March 2006. Positive initial results from the project showing significant reductions in pre-trial detention and duration in detention.

In 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding was entered into by the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Force to give effect to the PDSS Scheme. This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) enabled the duty solicitors to access the designated police stations in the states, secures police cooperation on the scheme and outlines the responsibilities of the different parties to the MOU.

The goodwill and co-operation of the major criminal justice agencies has been fundamental in the progress and achievements of all project activities alluded to in the foregoing paragraphs. However, frequent changes of leadership and institutional focus in the Police, the Legal Aid Council , State prosecution departments, executives and parliamentarians in recent years have slowed the pace of project activities and necessitated a reappraisal of project implementation strategies.

To address the challenge of these changes of leadership and institutional focus, REPLACE undertakes official visits to newly appointed heads of the Legal Aid Council, State Attorneys General, the Inspector General of Police and other agency heads. Previous work relationships and networks with State officers have been kept up through regular phone calls, visits and letters.

As a Trust, REPLACE’s primary source of funding is from Grant-making organisations. REPLACE engages in fundraising activities all year round with specific projects and proposals designed to access funds which may be available for the development of criminal justice and access to justice in Nigeria.

REPLACE has also developed networks and collaborative partnerships with other civil society organisations with complementary activities, while opportunities to partner with private sector corporations is currently being explored.

There has been a commitment by Legal Aid Council to take over management and to replicate to the other 30 states of Nigeria.

 

House 8, Flat 2, Benue Crescent
Area 1, Garki
Abuja, Nigeria

P.O Box 9903 Garki Abuja
info@replaceportal.com
+234 09 623 2251

 

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