Review The Criminal Justice Act By Mujahideen Adamu Ali |The Metro Lawyer
It’s truly a bold step the Lagos State House of Assembly is taking in ensuring that the law is given a role to play, looking at how the law was initially suppressed especially when it comes to anything associated with crime, giving jungle justice euphoria to flourish.
Sometimes being a criminal is better than being the suspect in our society because the suspect for a crime tends to damage one’s image much more than those confirmed to be guilty even if he or she was later confirmed guilty free. In some cases, it’s used to mock them, making them look odd in the society which the criminal is not.
However, now that the Lagos State House of Assembly has passed an amended version of the Criminal Justice Law in the state barring police from parading suspects before the media it will help in protecting the reputation of suspects.
Section 9 (a) of the newly-passed bill states: “As from the commencement of this law, the police shall refrain from parading any suspect before the media.” Though some media outlets try as much as possible to see that they blur the face(s), sometimes capture them from behind or they try to put a black rectangle that will somehow cover some portion of the suspect’s face especially the eye, but that’s not enough to some extent because anyone who knows them will surely recognise them no matter what.
The bill further stipulates conditions under which a policeman can arrest without a warrant, one of which is that a person must be reasonably suspected to unlawfully be in possession of firearms or other such dangerous instruments. This portion of the bill will do well in reducing the rate of harassment by police officers or agencies. Usually, a suspect starts collecting his or her share of harassment from the scene of the crime before taking it to the station where one receives the rest.
A sub-section of the bill also banned the police or any other agency from apprehending a person “in lieu of any other person in a criminal matter.”The bill reinforces that a person who is arrested “shall be given reasonable facilities for obtaining legal advice, bail or making arrangement for defence or release. This way, the legal framework can operate without any interference unlike what was obtainable in the past where the police station serves as the apprehenders, court, judge, lawyer, and prosecutor as well.
The bill specifies that a suspect should be “accorded humane treatment with the right to dignity of the person; not to be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; be brought before the court as prescribed by this law or any other written law, or be released conditionally or unconditionally.
I will like to appeal to the National Assembly to also review the criminal justice law as they are reviewing the Electoral Act so that the innocent should not continue to be punished for the offense they know nothing about.