by Leslie Jacks
The Lagos State Government has set up an advisory committee to review the laws empowering Police prosecutions in Magistrates’ Courts.
The eight-man committee has a former Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the state Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey as its Chairman.
Other members of the committee are: Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey; Director, Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr. Yhaqub Oshoala; Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN); DSP Yetunde Cardoso, O/C Legal Department, Criminal Investigation, Yaba; Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikorodu, Mr. Bayo Akinlade; Mrs Rukayat Owolabi while Mrs Arinola Momoh-Ayokanmbi was appointed the committees secretary.
The committee’s inauguration was in response to the clamour by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and stakeholders to bar Police prosecutions of criminal matters in the state magistrate court in accordance with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
While inaugurating the advisory committee, Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), said the government will announce its position on the matter after the recommendation of the committee.Onigbanjo assured that whatever the recommendation, they would be made known to the public.
He listed the committee’s terms of reference to include; The State of Law in terms of Police Prosecutorial powers; Challenges of oversight functions of the AG; Distinctions in the type of offences police can prosecute; Magistrate Court Jurisdiction on criminal matters and it’s powers to review charges; Track the Number of criminal cases filed at the Magistrate courts in Lagos State within a given period and how many cases were successfully prosecuted; whether the Office of the DPP can take over prosecution in over 150 magistrate courts in Lagos and Types and categories of cases Police prosecutors handle in the Magistrate court.The Attorney-General said that the members were carefully selected based on their wealth of experience in criminal justice practice.
He assured NGOs and residents in the state that government’s final decisions will be based on fairness, devoid of sentiments and bias.