Diligence, vital to criminal prosecution–lawyers

Lagos based lawyers on Tuesday urged prosecutors to ensure diligence in prosecuting criminal cases to accelerate the criminal justice system in Nigeria.

The lawyers, who were expressing their expectations for the criminal justice system in 2017, made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

Constitutional lawyer, Mr Spurgeon Ataene expressed concern over the attitude of some prosecutors toward criminal cases, describing them as being indifferent.

According to him, some prosecutors who preferred criminal charges against accused persons, end up treating such cases with levity once the accused are arraigned.

He said that such attitude was responsible for episodes of unending criminal litigation and called for an appropriate redress.

A rights activist, Sir Anthony Makolo also shared the views that some prosecutors were responsible for prolonged criminal trials, adding that this was due to lack of diligence by the prosecutors.

“There are situations in which some prosecutors even come to court late to prosecute criminal cases, and it becomes so annoying.

“Once an accused is charged and his plea taken, some prosecutors automatically become weary in opening their cases, and this most times leads to series of adjournments.

“In certain instances, some magistrates may no longer be inclined to granting further adjournments and so, they simply strike out the cases for lack of diligent prosecution,’’ Makolo said.

Makolo, therefore, urged prosecuting agencies to ensure that they organise routine orientation programmes on prosecutorial skills for their prosecuting staff.

Mr Ogedi Ogu, a social critic also blamed the situation on the attitude of prosecutors.
Ogu, who is also a rights activist, said that most accused persons remanded in prison custody were simply charged with offences, arraigned and remanded in custody.

According to him, some accused who are brought to court for trial, are most times returned back to custody due to failure of prosecution to produce witnesses.

“Some judges are very versatile in criminal trial and they will mostly insist that the prosecution calls its witnesses as soon as plea of the accused is taken.

“It is also a fact that some of these judges will not grant unnecessary adjournments in criminal matters, but may become constrained to doing so, because the prosecution may not be prepared with its witnesses.

“What is even more annoying is that you find a situation where a prosecutor comes to court and begins to shuttle between other courts with the excuse that he also has criminal trials in those courts.

Lagos based lawyers on Tuesday urged prosecutors to ensure diligence in prosecuting criminal cases to accelerate the criminal justice system in Nigeria.“These excuses all add up to the delays we experience in criminal trials and it really calls for redress.’’

According to Ogu, an accused is first presumed innocent until his guilt is established, s justice of a case can only be achieved through diligence in prosecution. (NAN)

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