Police should be given the power to prosecute criminal cases – Prof. Alubo

Prof. Alphonsus Alubo of the University of Jos says the Nigeria Police should be given the power to prosecute criminal cases.

Alubo disclosed this in a paper he presented at the opening ceremony of a 3-day Workshop on Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to him, 60 percent of all criminal cases in Nigeria are prosecuted by the police.

The theme of the workshop, organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) is: ‘’Reforming the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.’’

The title of Alubo’s paper is, ‘’Revisiting the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015: Issues and Recommendations.’’

He recommended the review of section 106 of the Act, which provides that prosecution of cases shall be undertaken by the Attorney-General of the Federation or a law officer in his ministry.

According to him, leaving the prosecution of criminal cases to only legal practitioners will be cumbersome and expensive.

“It would require hundreds of thousands of legal practitioners to prosecute in the Area, Magistrate and other lower courts.

“The financial implication of such a move, needless to state, is humongous and gargantuan, especially in an era of the deep economic morass.

“It is only appropriate that the police be restored as one of the prosecutors in the prosecutorial team, in appropriate cases.

“The police still prosecutes even in America and other developed world,’’ he said.

The professor of Comparative Criminal Law and Procedure also recommended for review, sections on Electronic Recording of Confession, Holding charge, Death sentence among others.

On his part, the Chief Judge, High Court of Justice of the FCT, Justice Ishaq Bello described the administration of justice as an image making process.

Bello delivered a paper on Revisiting the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015: Views from the Bench.”

He said that modern administration of justice was improving, hence, the systematic integration of state components in the passage of the Criminal Justice Bill.

“I am happy some states of the Federation are adopting the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 but with some modifications”.

Bello, who is also the Chairman of the implementation Committee of ACJA, said that the existence of lay police prosecutors was out-dated.

“Just as we are not laying magistrates presiding over court proceedings, lay police prosecutors cannot be accommodated while there are several qualified lawyers,’’ he said.

He argued that the central purpose of police arrest and prosecution was to expedite the process of Justice Administration, adding that it was also intended to check overcrowding of prisons.

Earlier, the Director-General of NILS, Dr Ladi Hamalai, said that ACJA had been meticulously reviewed by the Law Reform Committee.

She noted, however, that there was need for critical stakeholders to make salient inputs on some of the issues being canvassed.

“You cannot separate Justice from democracy. The Justice system plays a critical role to the sustenance of democracy.”

Hamalai, who is also the Chairperson of the Reform Committee, assured the participants that their perspectives would be presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

No fewer than 20 participants with expertise in Law and related fields are attending the workshop.

The committee to review existing laws and law reform was inaugurated by Mr Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representative on July 23, 2016.

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