By Abdulwahab Abdulah
LAGOS State Governor, Mr Raji Fashola (SAN) has said the democratic governance in the country would bring about no development unless the criminal justice system receive appropriate attention from both the state and the citizens.
In recognition of this, Governor Fashola has promulgated into law,Â the criminal procedure law, which he said has substantially reformed the justice sector of the state. Fashola spoke during the launch of a book on the â€˜Rights of Accused and Suspects Under the Nigerian Criminal Lawâ€™ in Lagos.
The Governorâ€™s remarks came,Â just as the author of the book, Mr Fred Agbedo noted that law â€œremains the only weapon against the perpetration of injustice and all other forms of vices and obnoxious practices in any society.â€
Governor Fashola who was represented by the state Director of the Public Prosecution , Mr Bisi Ogungbesan,Â reiterated the determination of the state government to improve on the welfare of the people of the state, while also protecting their rights from any infringement from the state and its agencies.
The author, Mr Agbedo said, â€œwithout any doubt, law remains the greatest bulwark against the perpetration of injusticeÂ and all other forms of vices or obnoxious practices in any society. It is only a society governed by laws that can ensure life and personal liberty, the two greatest attributes of humanity are respected and protected by the state and its agencies.
â€œThe present Nigerian constitution, in recognition of the fore-going, under section 14b, clearly and in no unmistakable terms, expressly entrusted in the government, the responsibility of protecting and guaranteeing the security and welfare of the people.â€
He said his book was written to bring to the public domain, some of the illegalities being committed by the agencies of the state as well as create awareness on the existing provisions forbidding the malpractice and the available remedies in law.
He noted that lawyers have prominent roles to play in the defence of human rights and the enthronement of justice and fair play as the precondition for the progress and development of the nation.
Nigerian Bar Association President, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who spoke at the event stressed the need for the government to do more to reduce to a barest minimum, the number of the awaiting trials inmates languishing in prisons across the country.
He lauded the publisher for his courage and effort in writing the book. He recommended the book not only to legal practitioners, but all Nigerians.
Extra judicial killing case, key witness assassinated
A major witness in the ongoing coroner inquest, investigatingÂ the cirumstances surrounding the death of Editorial Board of Thisday Newspapers member,Â Abayomi Ogundeji, has beenÂ assassinated.
The witnesses,Â identified as Tunmise was allegedly killedÂ by unknown gun men at Ishagamu Area of Ogun State.
It would be recalled that following the report of the death of the witness, the Chief Pathologist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Prof John Obafunwa, who is also a witness in the coroner inquest has also expressed concern over his safely of life and property.
Bamidele Ogundele, counsel to the family of late Abayomi Ogundeji, cnnouncing the death of the key witness, yesterday at the resumed hearing of the coroner inquest. He informed the court that the late Tunmise was in the vehicle with late Ogundeji when he met his untimely death.
late Tunmise he said, would have supplied the court with first hand information because she witnessed the killing of Ogundeji.
He told the court that information reaching him indicated that the late Tunmise, who resided at Ishagamu area of Ogun State was allegedly approached by some police operatives, who claimed they came from Lagos and wanted to forcefully take her to Lagos for interrogation.
He said the dead witness and her parents obstinately refused and the matter was reported at Ishagamu Police station, where it was resolved that she should not be forcefully taken.
He further told the court that the police operatives from Lagos agreed and left,Â two days later,Â the witness (Tunmise) was assassinated by unknown gun men.
The Yaba District Coroner, Senior Magistrate Mukaila Fadeyi, lamented that the whole essence of the coroner inquest was to put an end to such senseless killings, notingÂ that if a key witness such as Tunmise could be assassinated, it would be difficult for other sincere witnesses to come and testify in court.
Meanwhile the courtÂ has issued a bench warrant on Assistant Commissioner of Police Adenike, who was formerly the DPO of Dopemu Police Station where the case of Abayomiâ€™s death was reported and investigated for refusing an order of court requesting him to appear in court.
Court adjourns piracy suit against Chinese firm
The absence of Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has stalled further hearing in the trial of a Chinese firm, Benrit Outlook Ltd and the Managing Director of the firm, Wong Fook Kwan over alleged copyright infringement.
The accused are facing a four-count charge that borders on copyright infringement and piracy of musical works of some Nigerian and foreign artists. The charge is brought against them by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), though the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Some of the musical works alleged to have been pirated by the accused include, Apple Juice by Abass Obesere, Olufunmi by Style Plus, Ajegunle by African China, Nigerian Praise by Agatha Moses, Danfo Driver by Mountain Black and Mad Mellon, Celin Dion and Diana Roseâ€™s CDs, Soyoyo by Musiliu Aruna Ishola and Democracy by Austin Lamido.
The accused were alleged to have pirated the musical works without the consent and authorization of the copyright owners, while further hearing in the matter has been adjourned till July 28, 2009.
The charge brought against the accused persons is contrary to and punishable under section 18 (i) (a) of the Copyright Act Cap 68, Vol V, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 (as amended).