BY ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH, OLASUNKANMI AKONI, & MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
Lagos—Lagos State Government, yesterday, said police report was delaying prosecution of those arrested in connection with the case of two women severely tortured over alleged theft of pepper in Ejigbo area of the state.
This came as it said it was still pursuing the appeal it filed at the Supreme Court against the judgement of the Court of Appeal which discharged and acquitted Major Hamza Al-Mustpaha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, over the the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, at the 2014 Ministerial briefing to commemorate the seventh year in office of Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration, said no fewer than 2,595 offenders had been sentenced to various terms of community service across the 12 magisterial districts of the state in the last one year.
The state government however assisted aggrieved residents to recover over N479 million through payments of debt and compensations by its various agencies; and paid N99.6 million to the next of kin of deceased public servants.
Ipaye said “Between April 2013 and March 2014 a total of 2,595 offenders were sentenced to various terms of community service across the 12 Magisterial Districts of Lagos State.”
The Attorney General also said the state government established a first ever Pro Bono Trust Fund in Nigeria to enable indigent residents access free legal representation to be provided by private legal practitioners, asking Lagosians to take advantage of the many free legal services being offered by the State Government to address their grievances for the purpose of obtaining justice.
It will be recalled that the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, had ordered Force Headquarters to take over investigations into the torture of the two women accused of stealing pepper in a market in Ejigbo with a view to bringing the culprits to justice.
One of the women allegedly, died from injuries sustained from the torture which led detectives from the Force Criminal Investigations Department from Force Annex to commence fresh investigation into the dastardly act.
According to Ipaye,: “At the moment, we are awaiting the police report because there are certain aspects of the investigation they are still working on. Immediately we get the report, we will be going to court to prosecute the accused persons.”
On Al_Mustapha’s case, Ipaye said, “What is happening is that we have filed an appeal and the rules require us to file a notice of appeal which we did. And we did it at the court where the case was delivered and it has a time limit. If the court of appeal is unable to hear ones application within that time, one has to make the application at the Supreme Court.
“There is a window within which the court of appeal must hear the application and it is because we couldn’t get it heard within that period and we had to get out of the Court of Appeal by withdrawing our application and refilling it at the Supreme Court.
“At the moment, we are awaiting the hearing date from the Supreme Court. What we have done is not to withdraw the appeal,the appeal is still subsistent.”
He noted that the state embark on the pro bono fund to discourage impunity in the state, assuring that his ministry is committed to speedy trail so that suspect are not detained too long awaiting trial.
He said that his Ministry has consistently been an advocate as well as a defender of the rights of the citizens with four key departments whose primary mandate is to offer free legal services to citizens whose rights have been breached or violated.