CAN THE POLICE PROSECUTE CASES IN NIGERIAN COURTS?

Prosecution involves ensuring the application of the law where the breach of the law carries criminal sanction.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

6/8/2022 2 min read

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CAN THE POLICE PROSECUTE CASES IN NIGERIAN COURTS?

Prosecution involves ensuring the application of the law where the breach of the law carries criminal sanction, taking into account both the rights of the individual and the necessary effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Regarding prosecutorial power of the Police, with the Constitution taking primacy, Sections 174 and 211 of the Constitution, Section 106 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Section 66 of the Police Act are in pari materia and instructive on the actual position of the law.

The Constitution based on the judicial decision in Federal Republic of Nigeria V Osahon and Others holds that the Police Force is an authority of the Federal Government, hence they fall under the cadre of “any other authority” which can prosecute in any Court in Nigeria, whether qualified as a legal practitioner or not. Legal writers are beginning to however classify the decision of Federal Republic of Nigeria V Osahon and Others as a bad law especially in the light of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Police Act.

The Administration of Criminal Justice Act only allows the Attorney- General of the Federation or a Law Officer in his Ministry or Department, legal practitioner authorized by the Attorney-General of the Federation and legal practitioner authorized to prosecute by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act or any other Act of the National Assembly to hold the prosecutorial power in respect of criminal cases in Nigeria.

The Police Act vests prosecutorial power on the Police on two conditions that: a police officer who is a legal practitioner may prosecute in person before any court whether or not the information or complaint is laid in his name subject and that subject to the provisions of the relevant criminal procedure laws in force at the Federal or State level, a police officer may prosecute before the courts those offences which non-qualified legal practitioners can prosecute.

Till the Court rules on the provisions of Sections 174 and 211 of the Constitution, Section 106 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act and Section 66 of the Police Act, it is my opinion that the criminal procedure law in force in any court at each level of the judiciary remains the determinant on whether the Police have prosecutorial power or not.

Considering the Courts of the Federal Capital Territory and other Federal Courts in Nigeria, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) applies and it gives no room for the Police to prosecute in the aforementioned Courts. However, it is the law that under the ACJA, a police officer who is a legal practitioner can prosecute if he is authorised by the Attorney-General and as authorised by the Police Act which is included in any other Act of the National Assembly referenced to in Section 106(c) of the ACJA. Worthy to point out that, the ACJA has been domesticated in most states in Nigeria as Administration of Criminal Justice Law with similar provisions. Notwithstanding the foregoing, some lower Courts in Nigeria still play host to Police prosecutors.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

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