The Lagos District Prosecutors Office a sub unit of the Directorate of Public Prosection (DPP) has handled over 1700 cases at the State Magistrate Court in 2020.
According to the Director Public Prosection, Olayinka Adeyemi, the decision to create the District Prosecutor’s Office was an administrative decision and the project has been closely monitored.
She added that the prosecutors have established an operating protocol through which they give reports monthly, forward technical and special cases to the DPP for advice.
The DPP said two District Prosecutors have been deployed to each of the Magistrate Courts in Lagos State to ensure that all charges brought in by Investigating Police Officers (IPO) meet the minimum threshold of a case and deserving of a criminal trial.
Olayinka, who spoke during a meeting with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) noted that the District Prosecutors sift cases brought in by IPOs and if found not to be criminal cases they are forwarded to the Civil Court or restorative justice Court.
“The sub-unit was established to sift cases that are to be charged before the Magistrate Courts, especially civil cases couched to look like criminal cases,” she said
Olayinka stated that the government is gradually phasing out Police Prosecutors, noting that more Counsel will be needed to prosecute cases on behalf of the State.
The DPP while responding to the issue on Plea Bargain stated that Law Officers usually serve defense counsel the proof of evidence that contain the case of the Prosecution.
She said the directorate will afterwards consider making the Legal Advice available to Defense Counsel to help assess their cases and advice their clients properly on whether or not to choose the Plea Bargain option.
She added that the directorate does not receive enough applications of Plea Bargain from private lawyers, saying the directorate is left to decide on its own the number of years to suggest by it’s sentencing guideline.
The director also responded to the comment on the condition of State Correctional Centres and stated that a lot of efforts have been made to ensure decongestion of the Centres and the usual delay in prosecuting criminal cases.
“Although the Correctional Centres are under the supervision of the Federal Government, nonetheless, the State is doing its best, working with the Judiciary to see to the decongestion of prisons, but due to the Pandemic and the Endsars Saga much could not be done in the past year”, She said.
Olayinka said “For those Awaiting Trial, the Directorate now forward electronic copies of Legal Advice to the Magistrate Court as soon as its issued.”
The DPP, however, implored all Lawyers to play their path diligently in promoting and improving the Administration of Criminal Justice, saying: both the Prosecutors and Defence Lawyers are ministers in the temple of Justice.