The Nigeria police have faulted the call that it should be stripped of the power to prosecute criminal cases.
The Chief Judge of Delta State, Marshall Umukoro, said on Tuesday that the police have the challenge of lack of technical know-how to handle the job of prosecutors.
“Some police prosecutors who are not lawyers and are new on the job have no mastery of the game of prosecution,” Justice Umukoro was quoted as saying in Ibadan, where he delivered a lecture at the 2017 Aquinas Day Colloquium of Dominican Institute.
“This situation puts the magistrates in the position to play the role of assistants to the prosecutor.
“Some magistrates have, in the process, descended to the arena of conflict, thereby hampering the justice of the case.
“Another challenge of a police prosecutor is that the police force is a federal institution, and as such, not answerable to state institutions like the state Attorney-General and Department of Public Prosecution (DPP).
“This affects the transfer of case files between the IPO and the office of the state attorney-general.
“After arraignment by the police and remand by the magistrates, sometimes, the original case file is never kept in the court’s custody for transmission to the office of the attorney-general.
“This causes delays in rendering legal advice by the DPP and leads to having more accused persons in prison custody awaiting trial,” Mr. Umukoro said.
The police responded, by describing Justice Umukoro’s position as being a “legal misconception”.
A statement issued on Thursday by the Force spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said that the judge made the remarks “without recourse to section 106 of the of the Administration of criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, which clearly excludes non-lawyers from processing all offences in any Court of Law”.
“Furthermore, the Supreme Court in the case of FRN VS Osahon (2006) 5NWLR part 973 page 361 stated clearly the position of the law with respect to Police powers of prosecution.
“It should be noted that the Nigeria Police Force as an organisation has the highest number of lawyers in its establishment who are currently undertaking prosecution as provided in the ACJ ACT 2015,” the statement said.