Four years of implementing the Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS) in some parts of Nigeria has revealed a dangerous trend affecting the effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice System
The Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law (ACJA) is undoubtedly ingenious legislation that regulates how Law enforcement and the courts handle criminal activities. The Law has provisions that protect the citizens from abuse and violations of their Fundamental Rights.
Sadly, however, there is a foundational problem in the exercise of the powers of law enforcement officers to arrest an individual. Even though the ACJA provides the steps to take to effect an arrest, these rules are not followed and the COURTS don’t care how a citizen was arrested and in most cases, the Courts conveniently gloss over this fundamental aspect giving the law enforcement agencies the leeway to continue in this illegality.
While Arrest can come before an investigation, especially where a crime is committed in the face of a law enforcement agent, a Judge/Magistrate, and even a regular citizen, it is however not the usual ordinary way of bringing a person to answer to a criminal act before the courts.
In Nigeria today, law enforcement agents lack investigative skills because this aspect has been underutilized and the courts have aided in its underutilization.
Even the ministries of justices that ought to ensure that crimes are properly investigated and prosecuted have failed in protecting the Courts from congestion brought about by unprovable criminal charges.
Some investigations start and ends with taking statements from the suspect and the complainant …. This is unacceptable
When will our DPPs and Courts start to condemn this lazy method of bringing a charge before a court? When will they realize that they are contributing to abuse and the eventual collapse of the justice system?
Why should a magistrate entertain a charge that is not accompanied by a preliminary investigation report detailing the mode of arrest and the length of detention?
Under what facts stated are arrest warrants even issued?…it’s unfortunate that it sometimes has to take an order by a Chief Judge to control the issuances of arrest warrants when the laws are clear.
It is a no-brainer that we need to train our Judges and State Counsels in this regard. We must treat our citizens with respect and dignity. We must make our laws work through proper implementation.
How many charges are filed in our courts daily? What is the conviction rate of criminal cases in our courts? Answers to these questions will shed light on the abnormality and the need to correct the problem.
Bayo Akinlade, Esq.