Frontline Aspirant to the office of National Welfare of Nigerian Bar Association, Ikechukwu Maximus Ugwuoke is making a case for the upgrade of the welfare of Legal Practitioners in the Nigeria Police Force. He argued that they deserve better welfare treatment in the Force than they have now. In a statement he made available to newsmen he said that during his consultations with Lawyers in the various branches of NBA in Lagos, Abuja and other places he has visited so far, he has realized that lawyers in the Nigeria police force are facing a very sorry situation in terms of their welfare and ranks.
In his words, he said “I was chocked to gather that some lawyers in the Police Force are still at the rank of Corporal or Sergeant or Inspector cadres which are third, fourth and fifth lowest rank in Nigeria Police in ascending order. I was also amazed that other professional like medical doctors are given the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP), which is the third rank in the Senior Officers Carde in ascending order, at the point of their entry. This situation should not be. The Bar Part 2 Programme, which is mandatory for Legal practitioners in Nigeria, is a post graduate course and legal practitioners in the Force should not be treated like this. This debased entry ranking or generally degrading ranking of legal practitioners in the Force reflects on their welfare package, recognition and remunerations as lawyers in the Force. The result of this is the lack of interest by legal practitioners to join the Force and a handful of those who have joined (some of whom I know) are resigning from the Force to join private practice and to pursue their careers elsewhere.”
Ugwuoke maintained that there is no doubts that there is the need for NBA through its welfare body and drivers to engage Nigeria Police Force to upgrade the ranking and welfare of lawyers in the Force commensurate to their work, productivity and comparable to their other professional peers in the Force. He said that approach will reduce the dearth of legal practitioners in the Force and increase productivity of the entire Police Forces in terms of prosecution of cases in court. He pointed out that the degrading treatment to lawyers in the Force could be the cause of using non-lawyers police prosecutors in the trial of capital offenses in Magistrate courts and possibly one major reason for the holding charge in the criminal Justice system which has been used to remand many suspect in the awaiting trial of correctional facilities in Nigeria.
According to him, “Even when non-lawyer police prosecutors have good cases to present in court but had to face a legal practitioner on the defense side, your guess is as good as mine. All this makes it imperative that the welfare of lawyers in the Police Force need to be priotized and enhanced to encourage them to remain in the Force and deliver their services diligently. It is high time the Nigerian Bar Association which is the parent body that should advocates for the welfare of lawyers in Nigeria began to engage the Nigeria police force and the Police Service Commissions to enhance the welfare of Lawyers in the Police Force. This is part of the focus of the NBA of my dream and my priority” he said.