Two lawyers, Barrister Fola Awoyemi and Ajibola Lawal have called on the government to implement the aspect of the 2020 Police act that prevents police officers who are not lawyers from prosecuting cases.
The lawyers made the call on Thursday during the Bi-monthly meeting of ACJA/ACJL working group in Oyo State.
According to Barrister Fola Awoyemi, his organization had already filed a case to prevent officers of the Nigeria Police Force who are not lawyers from prosecuting cases in any court.
This case was still ongoing when the new police bill was enacted. This new law, according to him, clearly forbids any person who is not a member of the bench from prosecuting any case.
He, however, lamented that despite this new law, the last time he was at court, he still saw police officers prosecuting cases.
The idea of the law as at today is that if you are not a lawyer, you cant prosecute. So if anybody is doing that such person is already against the law. And the laws are ACJA, the ACJL of Oyo State and now the Police acts which regulates the way the police operate.
So any police officer that is not a lawyer and is still prosecuting cases is doing what is against the law and when you do anything against the law there is a nullity already because it is like doing what you dont have the capacity to do.
I know what the police will complain of is that they dont have enough lawyers to prosecute cases; then they should get them. If it is the budget you have to work on, work on it. Recruit more lawyers into the police force. I dont know maybe they have up to 100 lawyers in the police force but definitely they know they need more than 100 lawyers. Every divisional police office should have a lawyer. The work of a lawyer is more than just prosecuting cases. Barrister Awoyemi said.
Another lawyer at the meeting, Barrister Ajibola Lawal explained that it is unfortuanate that police officers with no idea of the law are charged with the role of prosecuting cases.
He also maintained that the ACJA/ACJL needs to be fully implemented to ensure criminal justice in the country is better administered.
“The administration of criminal justice acts (ACJA) has actually brought in a lot of solutions to the criminal justice sector but just like every law there is a need for the government to ensure that the law becomes our everyday guide. The law brings a lot of solutions to the criminal justice sector which I feel every state actor have to play their part to see that we achieve what we have to achieve, he said.
Speaking earlier, Barrister. Kehinde Adegbite, who moderated the meeting, revealed that he had completed work on a 17-page document that contains basic information about ACJA noting that the book was written in layman language for easy understanding.
This, he explained, was in a bid to ensure every citizen can have a better understanding how criminal justice should be administered in the country.
He also stated that the working committee which started in 2018 advocates for the implementation of the ACJA/ACJL laws in three various ways.
We monitor the determination of cases, i.e. proceedings of criminal cases and how check whether due procedure was followed.
We upload judgement on criminal cases on our website to make it available to interested members of the of the public. This website has over 400 hundred judgements from 8 states in the country that have ACJL.
We also hold meeting with people from the media, legal aid council, Judiciary, police, among others to deliberate on these cases., he said.
He, however, maintained that the virtual space will be employed to ensure people share their experience and also continue to advocate the law to people.