CSO, others seek removal of prosecutorial powers from police

The coalition of the Edo State Civil Society Organisations (CSO) has called on the state government to strip the Nigeria police of the power to prosecute criminal suspects in order to end the violation of  citizens’ right.

The CSO made the call in Benin on Wednesday during a one-day working group meeting on accountable governance, justice and security project-accessing, organised in partnership with CLEEN Foundation.

The theme of the workshop is “Challenges in the implementation of administration of criminal justice law of Edo State and way forward.’

In a speech, the CSO Coordinator General, Mr Omubude Agho, said the state law giving the Nigeria Police the right to arrest, investigate and prosecute criminal suspects had led to the violation of the rights of the citizens on a regular basis in the state.

Agho said that it ordinarily ought not to be so, adding: “The duty of the police should start with the arrest and  investigation of suspect.

“Upon completion of  investigations, they should hand them over to the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for prosecution,” he said.

He said that the state laws needed to be reviewed in order to strip the police of the power of prosecution.

According to him, that is the only way to stop citizens’ rights violation and punishing of innocent persons.

Also, Mrs Justina Odihirin, the Assistant Chief State Counsel, Ministry of Justice, DPP, said that the decision of the police to take up the role of prosecution had led to unlawful detention of citizens in their custody.

“In the Ministry of Justice today, we have discovered that 70 per cent of suspects’ files brought to us by the police for advice are those who do not have anything to do with being in detention at all.

“I believe that this is happening because the police take  the role of arrest, investigation and prosecution,” Odihirin said.

She advised that police roles should be limited to arrest and investigation of criminal suspects, while prosecution should be left in the hands of the DPP.

Representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria Bar Association, among other organisations, attended the meeting. (NAN)