The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), says the state is introducing a filtering mechanism to check the police from filing charges that do not meet the minimum evidential threshold at the magistrates’ courts in the state.
Onigbanjo said though Lagos State would not stop policemen, who are not lawyers, from prosecuting cases at the magistrates’ courts, the state would henceforth monitor them to ensure that only cases with merit get to court.
The attorney general said this in a communiqué issued by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice following the report of an advisory committee set up to look into the propriety of having policemen, who are not lawyers, prosecuting criminal cases at the magistrates’ courts.
The committee, led by a former Lagos State Solicitor-General, Mr Fola Arthur-Worrey, had blamed the frustration of about 15,000 criminal cases at the magistrate courts on the incompetence of the non-lawyer police prosecutors.
The committee recommended that the non-lawyer police prosecutors should be replaced by lawyers.
But addressing journalists on Friday, Onigbanjo said as desirable as the recommendation to replace police prosecutors with lawyers was, Lagos State was constrained by “shortfall of personnel, logistical limitations and financial implications.”
He said rather than stop the police prosecutors, the state would train them and also put a filter mechanism in place to ensure that only meritorious cases get to court.
He said, “We accept the recommendation of the committee to put in place a filter mechanism. With immediate effect, we shall commence the deployment of district prosecutors in three pilot magisterial districts – Ebute Meta, Ikorodu and Ogba – to vet charges and review case files presented by the Investigating Police Officers and ensure they meet evidential threshold required by law.”
Onigbanjo stressed that the Lagos State Ministry of Justice had enjoyed a good working relationship with the police, adding that they would continue to collaborate to address the challenges in the criminal justice system.