News: Nigerian Police to lose power to prosecute suspects

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According to Thisday, the police will soon forfeit their power to prosecute suspects under a new arrangement being worked out by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

The AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), said at a lecture in Abuja this week that in the impending dispensation, his office would assume the power to prosecute any criminal suspect.

Adoke, while delivering a keynote address at a national dialogue on torture, extra-judicial killings and national security, organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), also said extra-judicial killings in the country had claimed about 7,195 lives, adding that the situation has contributed to the wave of terrorism in the country today.

Adoke’s comment on extra-judicial killings coincided with the demand by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that the Federal Government should stop denying the fact that its security forces have been killing people under the pretext of fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.

Justifying the moves to strip the police of prosecution powers, Adoke said the force was peopled by non-professionals who were no match for the experienced and qualified lawyers to defendants in the court.
He said henceforth, the police would only concern themselves with investigations into criminal activities of suspects.

According to him, the inability to diligently prosecute offenders and the general state of helplessness for the victims of crime to get justice have led to a culture of self-help in the country.

The minister, who admitted that the wanton rot in the criminal justice system has escalated the culture of self-help and spate of terrorism in the country, said the Federal Government was concerned that the police had through the years relied on “Police Force Order 237” to commit extra-judicial killings.

He added that the order, which allows the police to shoot any suspect or detainee trying to escape or avoid arrest, has led to extra-judicial killings of 7,195 people in four years. Of those illegally killed, 2,500 were detainees, he added.

Although these figures have been stoutly disputed by the police, even the most charitable defenders of the force cannot deny that some dishonourable officers indeed have taken the law into their hands in the most barbaric fashion by killing suspects and innocent citizens,” Adoke said.

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