Lagos State Attorney General, (A-G) Mr Adeniji Kazeem (SAN), Monday, said about 230 applications for plea bargain agreement were received in the state over the last two years.
The A-G made the disclosure in his keynote address at a Rule of Law and Anti Corruption (RoLAC) workshop organised for judiciary correspondents in Lagos.
The programme centres on the topic Plea Bargain.
Plea Bargain is a negotiated agreement in which a defendant to a crime, pleads guilty to a lesser offence for some concession by the prosecution.
The A-G, represented by Mrs Olubunmi Olugasa, a Special Assistant to the Director of Public Prosecution, said that Lagos State is known to be a pace setter and pioneer not just in the Criminal Justice Sector, but in many other aspects.
Kazeem said that for this reason, the State has opted to partner with RoLAC in organising the programme.
“The plea bargain programme is one that the state takes a lot of interest in because, when you talk about prison decongestion, we know that Lagos State is one of the states with the highest level of congestion.
“The reason for that is not far fetched; the state is so populated and the likelihood of having a high crime rate cannot be done away with, and that is why, looking at all these factors, the State decided to enhance the plea bargain programme.
“In line with this, the plea bargain manual is already going to be released very soon in partnership with RoLAC.
“In the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, we will discover that the provision of plea bargain has been there for a while, but gradually, the idea takes time to be implemented, and overtime you discover that the society in Lagos is gradually becoming our bane.
“Each aspect of the society has to be carried along and that is why Magistrates have been trained, prosecutors have been trained, some Public defenders have been trained and members of the NBA,” he said
The A-G added that the need also arose to carry the media along, as “there is no need doing things for the citizens and the citizens do not understand why we are taking such steps.
“So far, we have had about 230 applications coming into Lagos in the last two years, and from our records here, about 80 have become the judgement of the court.
“Our aim and desire is that at the end of this programme, we will have a clearer understanding and better evaluation of the concept and hopefully, we will all be on the same page in moving the criminal justice system in Lagos forward,”
According to Kazeem, Lagos is currently embarking on a review of its laws to make the system better.
“In addition to this, the State is also reviewing both Criminal Laws and the Administration of Criminal Justice Law which is ongoing right now and am sure when the appropriate time arises, all of us will be part of that process” he said.