Prosecutorial Authority; The Law In Context

By Barr S.O.K Shillings
Whether the Administration of Criminal Justice Act(ACJA) is domesticated or not, the prosecutorial powers of the State are constitutionally vested in the respective Attorneys-General.
Without prejudice to the Police Act, the Attorney General(AG) still has the power to even take over from the police. And I dare state that the police institution does not have the power of fiat on the principle of delegatus non protest delegare.

Lagos State has appreciated the value of taking off lay policemen away from our courts when it provided in Section 9(S. 9) of the defunct Criminal Law of Lagos State 2010 that only lawyers would prosecute criminal cases in court.

The law died in infancy because of its political implications on who (of the CJ or AG) controls the magistracy. Interestingly, the 2011 law that replaced it removed that novel S. 9, and the State lost its pride as the navigator of justice sector reform on that issue before the advent of the ACJA.

Howbeit, I gathered from the office of the AG then that the section was removed because of the cost implication of running the scheme. And there was an assurance of a gradual implementation but avoidance of a mandatory law on the subject which never came to fruition anyway.

I want to reiterate my earlier submission on this platform some time ago on this subject, that the thought of cost implications on the part of the Lagos (or any) State on this issue is tantamount to a dereliction of a fundamental function or preventing, curtailing and effectively adjudicating social security breaches.

I, therefore, join my feeble voice in calling for the domestication of the ACJA particularly for the purpose of removing lay policemen from our courts.

In so advocating, the government needs to take cognizance of the desecration of the temple by policemen who turn the courts into an extension of the barracks with the malpractices that have pervaded our institution.

Aside from the incompetence, there are too many frivolous charges and many of the cases are compromised.

On the issue of cost, I think more in terms of staff optimal utilization. The prosecution by police is not without cost. There will only be a shifting of budgetary responsibility in that regard from the police (federal) to the office of the AG (state) and my colleagues will have job opportunities in their own precinct.

I urge everyone concerned to approach the Attorney Generals of our states to persuade them by their own means to consider this issue and act upon it now.
Barr S.O.K Chillings(Former Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, Ikorodu Branch)

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