NBA, Police Join Forces on Criminal Justice Administration

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The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Police have renewed their partnership and commitment to upholding the rule of law and administration of criminal justice.

They emphasised the benefits of the Police implementing the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJL), 2015 or the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) of the states.

They affirmed their resolve at a one-day workshop for the police in Lagos organised by the NBA – with the technical support of its Institute of Continuing Legal Education – in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation.

Titled, “The Role of the Nigeria Police in the Implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Compliance with Principles of Human Rights in Law Enforcement”, it featured the Lagos State Government and private justice sector stakeholders, among others.

Guests at the event included the Lagos State Attorney-General Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, Executive Director Legal Defence Assistance Project (LEDAP) Pamela Okorodigwe, a former Deputy Director at the National Human rights Commission Mr. Saka Azimazi, lawyers in the Police, among others.

Onigbanjo noted that Lagos works closely with the state Police command and has “consistently engaged through training and re-training of investigating police officers of the provisions of the ACJL and other investigative techniques as well as equipping and assisting the Nigerian Police, Lagos State Command.”

He noted further, the state’s pioneering work in enacting the ACJL for law enforcement agencies and justice sector stakeholders to promote the rights of victims and suspects as well as address delay in the administration of criminal justice.

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Chairman of the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Tobenna Erojikwe, expressed delight that most states have domesticated the ACJA.

Erojikwe emphasised the Police’s importance 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.

Erojikwe added: “It is hypocritical to expect their best if we do not invest time and resources in making sure that we have an optimal and effectively equipped police force that can live up to the expectations of the citizenry.”

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.”

We only have that at maybe Panti, State CID level, there is one being built at Zone 2. Several divisions, area commands where the bulk of crimes are, don’t have such facilities.”

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He also noted that the provision requiring lawyers to take up the role of lay prosecutors at magistrates’ courts may not be practicable for the Police, because of a shortage of manpower.

“We also have the challenge of lay prosecutors, when it is said that if are not a lawyer you can’t prosecute. When you speak of manpower, legal manpower or the strength of the legal section of the police force, we (Police lawyers) can’t be in every magistrate court,” the CSP said.

He called for government intervention in these areas to enable the police to adequately implement the ACJA/L.

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