Lagos State government has commenced moves to restrict the Nigeria Police from criminal prosecution in its court, in a gradual fashion.
The legal advisory committee on police prosecution of criminal cases in the state has recommended a gradual phase-out of prosecution of criminal cases by policemen “to prevent a breakdown in the criminal justice system of the state.”
Onigbanjo said four out of the nine recommendations of the committee would be implemented immediately, while the remaining five would be addressed through the appropriate quarters.
He said police prosecutors needed to be better trained and equipped to efficiently discharge the duties of prosecutors, as the ministry lacked the manpower to completely replace police prosecutors now.
He suggested that the Ministry of Justice would continue to provide the Nigeria Police with technical and infrastructural support to enhance the capacity of their prosecutors and investigators.
He added that government would employ a filter mechanism to checkmate case files through immediate deployment of district prosecutors to three pilot magisterial districts in the state, namely Ebute-Meta, Ikorodu and Ogba.
“With immediate effect we shall commence the deployment of district prosecutors in three magistrate courts to vet charges and review case files presented by investigation police officers to ensure they meet the evidential threshold required by law,” Onigbanjo said.
He gave a hint that henceforth police prosecutors would have a limited category and number of cases they can handle, and the category and maximum number of cases would be disclosed after a joint meeting with the judiciary and the state commissioner of police.
He also said this recommendation of the committee regarding police prosecutorial power and limitation would also be incorporated in the amendment of the Administration of Criminal Justice System (ACJL) to be presented to the State House of Assembly for consideration and approval.