Stakeholders decry challenges in implementation of Lagos ACJL

Participants at a workshop in Lagos have decried the challenges in the implementation of the criminal justice system in Lagos, despite novel provisions in the states’ Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), 2011.

The participants, who called for the amendment of the law to address the identified issues, particularly queried the propriety of pre-trial detention approved by the law as well as the mode of obtaining confessional statements from suspects by the Police.

The workshop, organised by a Lagos based non-governmental organization, Human Right Law Service (HURILAWS) was designed to appraise the implementation of the law and educate law enforcement agents on innovations in it.

Speaking at the workshop, Executive Director, Human Rights and Empowerment Project (HREP), Francis Moneke, said sections 7, 24, 108 and 109 (1) and (2) and 264 of the law needs amendment in order to avoid abuse.

For instance, he said section 7 needs to be amended to protect innocent citizens from unwittingly allowing into their homes thieves or armed robbers who may employ the gimmick of announcing themselves as law enforcement agents in other to gain easy entrance into a person’s home.

“Section 24 is liable to abuse, for instance where a law enforcement agent arrests a person on a public holiday or weekend and keeps the person in detention until the next working day when the arrested person can be brought before a court,” he pointed out.

He further identified section 264 and the need for amendment to finally proscribe the holden charge practice by conferring the power of remand only on a court of competent jurisdiction.

HURILAWS legal/programme officer, Mr. Collins Okeke in his opening remark noted that the ACJL was first passed in Lagos State in 2007 and an amended version passed in 2011.

His words: “The ACJ law was later passed by Anambra, Ekiti and the Federal Government in 2015. We are currently engaged in advocacy for passage of the ACJ Law in Plateau, Edo, Benue, Enugu and Cross Rivers. Cross River and Edo this year passed the ACJ Law. We are confident Enugu, Benue and Plateau will follow.

“Whilst we continue to engage in advocacy for a national adoption of the ACJ Law, we believe it is important that the ACJ law is effectively implemented.”

He expressed optimism that the workshop will assist and produce recommendations that will impact positively on implementation of the Lagos ACJ Law.

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