A magistrate’s understanding, interpretation of ACJL

Ogunsakin Mustapha
4 Min Read
Bayo Akinlade, NLS Publicity Secretary

By Bayo Akinlade

I once asked, who is sabotaging the effecient implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice system? Is it the Police, Ministry of Justice or the Judiciary? We are yet to really understand the problems as we look for ways to make things work better.

Let us consider the case below and make your own conclusions.

An 18yrs old boy was arrested by the police in panti in July when he was still 17, on a complaint from mallams who had sold gold to another person who gave them fake alerts and went away with the gold.

Our 18yrs old was apparently the middleman who put the mallams in contact with the buyers.

The police arrested the boy by tracing his phone. The boy was forced to sign a statement written by the IPO, was taken out of lagos to other states in an attempt to trace the culprits, obtained a suspicious remand order and kept the boy in police custody for more than 6 weeks

The boy was finally arraigned in August after interventions from me. The boy was committed to Ikoyi prisons pending DPP advice.

Court did not sit on the next 2 adjourned dates but finally, the court sat on the 12th Dec.

In the absence of the DPP advice, the court was moved to strike out the case as it was now almost 4 months since the boy was incarcerated.

To my greatest surprise our magistrate in court 1 yaba decides to adjourn the case for another 7 days to allow the DPP to issue an advice… What law or practice is this?

On the 19th of Dec. the case was called, no DPP and no advice but our magistrate refused to strike out the case but decided to stand down the case to allow the DPP to get the court with an advice.

The advice turned out to be in favour of the complainants who are mallams who sell gold.

The boy is back in ikoyi prison and will have to wait for the DPP to file an information, wait for the case to be assigned before a judge of the high court and wait for a date to be given.

This young fatherless boy with a mother who works in the lagos state health services will spend another 2 to 3 months in detention.

For those of us who have teenage children, we will try to comprehend what kind of justice system we have. We will try to imagine what kind of country we will leave behind for the upcoming generation.

Only God knows what the magistrate was thinking or seeking to achieve… To me, it doesn’t look like justice was served but then again justice means different things to different people.

What is then my conclusion about the police, ministry of justice and the judiciary in their respective roles in an effective administration of Criminal Justice system? …. Hard to say for now, there are indeed bad eggs everywhere but all is not totally lost. We will continue to engage and maybe one day we will see a fearless and corrupt free Judiciary.

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