The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem O. Alogba, has said 50 per cent of homicide cases in the state are trumped-up charges.
Justice Alogba stated this at a two-day workshop organised by the Chief Coroner of Lagos State, Justice Mojisola Dada, at the Lagos State Judicial Training Institute, Ikeja.
The workshop – themed, ‘The Coroners’ System Law in the 21st century Lagos,’ – was attended by the top brass of the legal system in the state as well as members of the medical profession, including the state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi.
Participants highlighted the problems plaguing the system in the state and proposed effective measures to improve on it.
Justice Alogba said, “Fifty per cent of the homicide cases in the state are trumped-up charges.
“Even when these victims are eventually acquitted of the trumped-up charges, no law provides people like them with compensation.”
In her lecture, Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Ikeja High Court said there was the need for synergy between the coroner, the officer in charge, and the medical examiner of a district, saying this helped to foster effectiveness in carrying out their duties.
The Chief Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Prof John Obafunwa, lamented the dearth of crime scene knowledge among police officers.
He said, “After a crime, there’s a format for removing bodies at the scene. It is imperative that the crime scene is cordoned off and a coroner is called.
“But what we have most times is that after a crime, the police remove the bodies from the scene of the crime and bring them to us, which makes our work in identifying the cause of death nearly impossible.”
In response to this, the representative of the Lagos State Police Command, CSP Oseni Razak, highlighted some of the challenges hampering the police in carrying out their duties at crime scenes, especially those that involve questionable deaths.
“There are 157 police divisions in Lagos State and the majority of the police officers are general duty staff members. Some well-trained staff members might not even be at the right duty posts and can be transferred out of the state at a moment’s notice. This in no small way affects the effectiveness of the police,” he said.
He further lamented that the lack of essential items prevented the police from carrying out their job.
“Even materials as small as gloves aren’t made available for investigating officers and this in no small way prevents the police from doing their best,” he said.
The Commissioner for Health, Abayomi, stressed the need for more education for both medical and legal practitioners with regards to the coroner system.
“There’s a large level of ignorance on when to request an autopsy, so a training like this can help provide such knowledge as well as teach medical and legal practitioners that there are consequences for their mistakes,” he said.