The Lagos State Government on Monday said there is no law stopping police officers from prosecuting suspected offenders in the state’s Magistrates’ Courts.
Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, said the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which bars Police prosecution of criminal matters in Magistrates’ Courts does not apply in Lagos.
Onigbanjo stated this in a statement, issued by the ministry’s Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Kayode Oyekanmi.
The AG said the state was aware of stakeholder efforts to stop the practice of police prosecution in the interest of justice, and he had set up a committee to examine the pros and cons of the proposal.
He said: “The Ministry of Justice is aware of the current clamour by the Non-Governmental Organizations and Stakeholders to stop Police prosecution of criminal matters in Magistrates’ Courts in accordance to ACJA provisions.
“The Ministry wishes to clearly state that the ACJA does not apply to Lagos State. Furthermore, there is no provision of any Law barring the Police from prosecution of criminal matters in Magistrates’ Courts in Lagos State.
“As such, the provision of the Law in Lagos State as it stands does not Bar the Police from the prosecution of matters in Magistrate Courts.
“However, the Ministry of Justice is always willing to investigate any issue that would improve the administration of Justice in the State.”
Onigbanjo said he had set up a seven-man committee to look into the matter and advice the government accordingly.
The committee comprises Arthur Worrey as Chairman and six other members.
They are T. K. Shitta-Bey (Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Justice), Y. G. Oshoala (Directorate of Public Prosecution), Lawson Coker, Bayo Akinlade, Rukayat Owolabi, and Arinola Ayokanmbi.
He added: “More importantly, the Ministry is currently in the process of reviewing the State Laws relating to the Administration of Criminal Justice.
“The Ministry hereby assures members of the public that they would be informed on the outcome of the committee’s report.”