By Henry Ojelu
Some legal practitioners have emphasised the crucial role of the police in the effective implementation of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act, ACJL, 2015.
The lawyers who made their position known at a one-day workshop for the police in Lagos organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA with the technical support of its Institute of Continuing Legal Education in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, noted that police hold the key to the success of ACJL.
Titled, “The Role of the Nigeria Police in the Implementation of ACJL and compliance with principles of human rights in law enforcement, the workshop had many senior police officers in attendance.
Speaking at the event, The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN explained that the Nigerian police is one of the bodies empowered to ensure the administration of justice and so, must ensure that the rights of suspects are respected.
Onigbanjo, represented by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Dr. Babajide Martin emphasised that the police have a duty to ensure that the fundamental rights of citizens are respected and protected.
He added that Lagos State works closely with the police command to ensure the protection of the right of suspects in compliance with the provisions of the law and the Constitution, such as prohibiting arrest for civil/ contractual matters, parade of suspects, recording of suspects confessional statements, plea bargain, visiting detention facilities my magistrates, etc.
Chairman of the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Tobenna Erojikwe, expressed delight that most states have domesticated the ACJA.
Erojikwe reiterated the role of the police in the justice sector, saying “Anyone that has taken time to look at the ACJA or ACJL of the states will know that without the Police, there will be no conversation about administrations criminal justice anywhere in the world.
“The role of the Police is indeed very significant in the conversations that we have around the administration of criminal justice.” He canvassed better resources for the police to enable them to implement the ACJA/ACJL.
The Officer-in-Charge of the Legal Department at Zone 2 Headquarters in Lagos, Chief Superintendent Paul Idenyenmin stated that the Police had been following the provisions of the ACJL of Lagos.
He identified one of the salient areas to include the recording of defendants’ confessional statements but noted several challenges.
Idenyenmin said: “The law has protocols on how such statements should be recorded, but the area we have a challenge is with relation to facilities. Statement recording rooms are meant for defendants’ statements to be recorded, with cameras and audio equipment. Most police stations don’t have that.”
Other lawyers and police officers who attended the event also expressed their views on what can be done by relevant authorities to strengthen the law.
PICTURE CAPTION: L-R: ACP Sola Oketunji; ACP Debbie Bernard of AC CID Ogun State Police Command; Project Team Cordinator, Osita Okoro; Resource Person/ Speaker, Former Deputy Director, Legal and Investigation, National Human Right Commission, Mr. Zaka Azimazi; Executive Director, Legal Defence Assistance Project, LEDAP/Moderator at the training, Mrs. Pamela Okoroigwe; Dr. Babajide Martinins, DPP Lagos; Deputy PPRO Lagos Command, DSP Kuti Stephen; Chairman, NBA Institute of Cotinue Legal Education, Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe; Speaker/ Advisor, Rule of Law, GIZ Police Programme Africa Nigeria, Mrs. Kate Okoh-Kpina; DCP Ganiyu Salami, Zne XI Oshogbo and Master of Ceremony, Ogaga Emoghwanre;