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Nigeria’s Judiciary not Father Christmas – CJN, Onnoghen

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Monday, said there was need for prosecutors in the country to properly investigate cases before charging suspects to court.

According to the CJN, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Workshop for Investigators and Prosecutors, held at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, in Abuja, the role of the judiciary as a key stakeholder in the administration of criminal justice can hardly be discharged without diligent investigation and prosecution.

He said: “I must emphasise that in all criminal trials, the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and this burden is discharged by the prosecution calling witnesses to give compelling evidence against the defendant with relevant exhibits to lend credence to oral evidence as the court is not Father Christmas that will give what you did not ask of it.

“The Supreme Court decision in Ekpenyong & 0rs vs. Nyong & Ors (1975 2 SC. 71 at page 80) is instructive in this regard. The prosecutors must always be guided to ensure that the spirit of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 is not subjected to abuse by parties in criminal matters.

“I am glad to say that, the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 has introduced innovations such as front loading of evidence at the time of commencement of an action, Plea bargaining, limitation of adjournments, restitution non-custodial sentencing and forfeiture of assets, amongst others, are some of the innovations aimed at strengthening our Justice system”.

Justice Onnoghen said the decision to organize the workshop was borne out of the desire of the Education Committee of the Board of Governors of the NJI to enhance the capacity and capability of investigators and prosecutors.

“This workshop serves as a forum to sharpen the prosecutorial and investigative skills of participants in view of the daily challenges you encounter in the discharge of your duties.

“There is no, gain saying that the criminal justice system depends essentially on efficient and effective functioning of all stakeholders. The stakeholders have their duties and responsibilities intertwined, as such, the efficiency and effectiveness of one entity can be hampered by the inefficiency and incompetence of the other.

“In this light, the role of the Judiciary as a key stakeholder in the administration of criminal justice can hardly be discharged without diligent investigation and prosecution. Hence, the roles of investigators and prosecutors in the administration of criminal justice cannot be overemphasised.

“The theme of this workshop; ‘Promoting Integrity and Transparency in the Administration of Justice’, is apt and deliberate, as it is tailored towards addressing the myriad of challenges impeding the prosecution and investigation of crimes in order to promote transparency and integrity in the administration of criminal Justice

“As stakeholders, we must promote efficiency in the criminal justice sector by ensuring speedy dispensation of cases, recognising and safeguarding the rights of individuals in line with the salient provisions of the law to ensure that matters pertaining to defendants, suspects awaiting trial and persons whose matters are undergoing investigation, are speedily dispensed with”, the CJN added.

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