By Dayo Benson
In other to boost the prosecution capacity, of Attorneys General, Director of Public Prosecution and Prosecutors, a one day workshop was organised for them by the Lagos Business School with the Theme ‘Effective Public Prosecution and Defence: Essentials for Success.’
The workshop was put together in conjunction with Conference of Western Attorney-Generals and had as facilitator and principal resource person, Chief Anthony Idigbe SAN of Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors, Director of Research at LBS, Professor Olawale Ajai, former Lagos State Solicitor General, Mr. Fola Arthur Worrey, Chief Federal Deputy and General Counsel United States, Parker Douglas and Attorney-General of the State of Utah, United States of America, Sean Reyes.
Targeted at Attorneys General from the 36 states, directors of public prosecution and prosecutors in the ministries of justice and investigative agencies, the participants had an opportunity to interact with seasoned prosecutors from different jurisdictions, with a view to sharing experiences and comparing notes.
The course content took participants through thematic issues in prosecution, including The Role of Attorney-General in Public Prosecution and Criminal Justice System, Case Preparation, Effective and Ethical Practice as DPP and Attorney-General, Ethical Criminal Justice Practice: How Possible, How True? Prosecuting a Corruption Case: From ‘Honest Graft’ to Conflict of Interest.
After many years as a prosecutor and later Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mr. Fola Arthur Worrey identified areas of crucial attention that could improve criminal justice delivery through effective prosecution.
He said the major challenge is how to manage the process and recommended a reward system for good and honest prosecutions, motivation, proper investigation, dignity of the prosecutors, deployment of technology, acceptable leadership, welfare scheme for prosecutors, addressing ethical issues and also recommended that a percentage of recovered proceeds from crime should be retained by the prosecution agencies to help improve their infrastructure.
The major facilitator and resource person for the programme, Chief Idigbe SAN told newsmen at the sideline that ‘its not unusual for convicts to forfeit proceeds of the crime of the object of the crime, like drugs and the challenge most times is, to whom do you forfeit those proceeds?
‘Another challenge is the relationship between the DPP and the Police, where we hear often ‘DPP’s advice is being awaited and this should be so.
We need both the DPP and the police, in other countries, the police actually report to the DPP who is totally in charge of investigations, and I hope we’ll get there someday in Nigeria.
‘Also we have the worrisome issue of Holding Charge, and my personal view is that we should try to strengthen the presumption of innocence before conviction and enshrined in the Constitution.
‘The investigating agencies should step up their act and ensure that they conclude investigation before arraignment in a court. Then when there is absolute need to seek for extension of time, they should go to the proper court which has proper jurisdiction to get such extension to properly detain a crime suspect.
‘I am strongly of the view that the office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, where the Attorney-General deals strictly on legal matters and don’t get distracted with the politics associated with the office.
‘For instance, the Minister of Justice can deal with issues of policy, funding and attending Council of State meetings, while the Attorney-General should be at the implementation side, handling cases on behalf of the government, prosecuting and other purely legal issues.’