By Bayo Akinlade

ARREST BEFORE INVESTIGATION: How the Courts and Ministries of Justices Have Aided the Abuse By Law Enforcement Agencies

Four years of implementing the Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS) in some parts of Nigeria has revealed a dangerous trend affecting the effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice System

The Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law (ACJA) is undoubtedly an ingenious legislation that regulates how Law enforcement and the courts handle criminal activities. The Law has provisions that protect the citizens from abuse and violations of their Fundamental Rights.

Sadly however, there is a foundational problem in the exercise of the powers of law enforcement officers to arrest an individual. Even though the ACJA provides clearly on the steps to take to effect an arrest, these rules are not followed and the COURTS don’t care how a citizen was arrested and in most cases the Courts conveniently gloss over this fundamental aspect giving the law enforcement agencies the leeway to continue in this illegality.

While Arrest can come before an investigation, especially where a crime is committed in the face of a law enforcement agent, a Judge/Magistrate and even a regular citizen, it is however not the usual ordinary way of bringing a person to answer to a criminal act before the courts

In Nigeria today, the law enforcement agents lack investigative skills because this aspect has been underutilized and the courts has aided in it’s underutilization.

Even the ministries of justices that ought to ensure that crimes are properly investigated and prosecuted have failed entirely in protecting the Courts from congestion brought about by unprovable criminal charges.

Some investigations starts and ends with taking statements from the suspect and the complainant. This is absolutely unacceptable

When will our DPPs and Courts start to condemn this lazy method of bringing a charge before a court? When will they realize that they are contributing to abuse and the eventual collapse of the justice system?

Why should a magistrate entertain a charge that is not accompanied by a preliminary investigation report detailing the mode of arrest and the length of detention?

Under what facts stated are arrest warrants even issued? It is unfortunate that it sometimes has to take an order by a Chief Judge to control the issuances of arrest warrants when the laws are clear.

It is a no-brainer that we need to train our Judges and State Counsels in this regard. We must treat our citizens with respect and dignity. We must make our laws work through proper implementation.

How many charges are filed in our courts daily? What is the conviction rate of criminal cases in our courts? Answers to these questions will shed light into the abnormality and the need to correct the problem.

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