Gavel, a legal organisation, which focuses on ensuring corruption and the abuse of law is reduced to its barest minimum, has set up an online platform called PODUS, which will ensure that human right abuses especially in criminal cases are completely eliminated. PODUS, a brainchild of Barrister Nelson Olanipekun Esq, an Ibadan based human right activist, aims to educate and enlighten the general public and the law enforcement agents especially the police, on the necessary human right laws and policies and the consequent consequences of abusing them, according to the Luanda guidelines, an international treaty, which has already started being operated in Abuja. PODUS is ably supported by the Open Society Justice Initiative, and they aim to reduce the various human right abuses which are meted out to individuals especially those involved in criminal cases.
According to Nelson, who happily announced that Oyo State was a pilot state for them to introduce PODUS to the western states, with a view to ensure it becomes an operational standard, also said that there has been a first order approved by the former IG of Police to enforce Sec 18 of ACJA 2016 in Oyo State, of which some states in the South-West have started practising the ACJA.
Giving more details about the PODUS online platform, which was launched on Friday August 9th 2019, in Oyo, Nelsosn stated clearly that the App was to be downloaded by lawyers, who are willing to give Pro Bono services for clients, but there was room for such lawyers to be formally hired if the client is satisfied with their efforts, and needs a formal legal representative in the case. He reiterated that PODUS does not in anyway reduce the need for an accused to hire a lawyer for legal representation, because the PODUS lawyer does not work for either the security agent or the accused, but is only concerned that human rights of both parties are strictly adhered to, and not abused.
Femi Ajibade Esq, a partner in Gavel, stated on the need that PODUS is serving, which is bridging the gap between lawyers and victims of human rights abuses. As there was urgent need to sensitize the public, lawyers and security agencies on the need to observe human right practices across the globe, irrespective of the enormity of the alleged crime committed.
Dare Ayankoya, the IT partner of Gavel, who unveiled PODUS took the press, human right lawyers and audience present on the process of downloading or registering with PODUS. According to him, victims or complainants only need to register on the PODUS platform and report their cases, which can be done either by the victim or a third party. But the lawyers need to download the app and register, so as to be able to view cases, assigned a case by the admin, have the right to accept or refuse a case depending on location, nature of case and availability, report erring clients, or withdraw from a matter as the case may be. He also disclosed that the app uses artificial intelligence, which relays information and also monitors the entire activity between a lawyer and client.
During the interactive session, Nelson stated that Gavel visits police stations and prisons periodically to help people who do not have access to a lawyer, and intimated the audience that Oyo State has the highest number of awaiting trial cases, which its why PODUS needed to kick start in the state. He also mentioned that while Gavel could sponsor volunteer lawyers to make appearances in court, but they are also careful not to disrupt the opportunities for other legal practitioners, which is why PODUS focuses only on human right abuses. The audience also made some observations, feedback and suggestions, which Nelson took note of and pointed out that he and his team will sieve through and implement some of the good ideas. `
By and large the aim of PODUS, is to enforce safety and human right practices in Nigeria, ensure the security agencies keep to the Luanda treaty when detaining or interrogating an accused person, ensure victims have easy access to legal support from PODUS before they hire a lawyer, reduce corruption especially in the civil service systems, which is endemic and affects the growth and development of Nigeria.
For more information visit www.podus.ngalso follow them on twitter @podusng @citizen_gavel