The Lagos District Prosecutors Office, a subunit of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), treated over 1700 cases at the State Magistrate Courts in the year 2020 due to the creation of the District Prosecutors Office by the State Ministry of Justice as a separate office.
The Director, Public Prosecution, Mrs. Olayinka Adeyemi, made the disclosure while speaking at the February monthly meeting with the Ikeja Chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), adding that the decision to create the separate Office was geared towards improving the number of cases prosecuted by the Ministry.
She said the project was closely monitored and has proven successful, maintaining that prosecutors have established an operating protocol through which they give reports monthly and forward technical as well as special cases to the DPP for consideration and advice.
Adeyemi explained that two District Prosecutors were deployed to each of the Magistrate Courts in Lagos State to ensure that all charges brought by Investigating Police Officers (IPO) meet the minimum threshold of a case and deserving of a criminal trial.
“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 government is gradually phasing out Police Prosecutors, as such more Counsel will be needed to prosecute cases on behalf of the State Government”, she disclosed.
Speaking on Plea Bargain, the DPP stated that Law Officers usually serve Defence Counsel the proof of evidence that contains the case of the prosecution, the directorate will afterwards consider making the Legal Advice available to Defence Counsel to help assess cases and advice their clients properly on whether or not to choose the Plea Bargain option.
She revealed that the directorate does not receive enough applications of Plea Bargain from private lawyers, saying that the directorate is left to decide on its own the number of years to suggest by its sentencing guideline.
Responding to a comment on the condition of State Correctional Centres, Adeyemi said that a lot of efforts have been made to ensure decongestion of the Centres and eliminate the usual delay in prosecuting criminal cases.
In her words: “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 protest much could not be done in the past year”.
“For those Awaiting Trial, the Directorate now forwards electronic copies of Legal Advice to the Magistrate Court as soon as it is issued”, she added.
The DPP, however, implored all Lawyers to play their part diligently in promoting and improving the Administration of Criminal Justice, stressing that both the Prosecutors and Defence Lawyers are ministers in the temple of Justice.
The Ikeja NBA members present at the monthly meeting include Bartholomew Aguegbodo (Branch Chairman); Adeodoyin Sobiye (Vice-Chairman); Adeyemi Abijo (Secretary); Bodunde Ezekiel (Assistant Secretary); Basil Owolabi (Treasurer); Ademilola Temitope Adeola (Financial Secretary); Marvin Ibem (Publicity Secretary); Adesola Olushoga Bello (Social Secretary); Adeola Folarin (Welfare Secretary) and Omozusi Omokhafe (Provost), among others.