The inspector-general of police (IGP), Usman Baba, at a media briefing at the presidential villa in the federal capital territory (FCT) on Thursday, lamented the “prolonged delay” in the country’s criminal prosecution process.

Baba said there are over 20,000 active criminal cases in court following arrests by the police, adding that it takes a “longer time” to get a suspect convicted.

He said the criminal justice system of the country places the burden of proof on the accuser rather than the accused, adding that the court processes that involve tendering of evidence by the accuser is “long”.

The police boss, citing the case of Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, a suspected kidnap kingpin better known as Evans, said the court processes before conviction are necessary, but noted that the country must also consider speeding up the process.

“Evans is not with the police, Evans is undergoing prosecution. He is in prison. He is being detained at the instance of the court and the case is going on. That is one of the things I’m saying. This is celebrated, that is why you know. On a monthly and weekly basis, we charge suspects that are accused of either committing armed robbery, banditry, or kidnapping to court,” he said.

“But the process of getting the person convicted takes a longer time. We have cases in the supreme court; we have cases in federal high courts; we have cases in the magistrate courts — over 20,000 active cases nationwide. Not kidnapping, generally.

“We know our court process. If you just go to any of the French-speaking countries, if a person is accused of being a thief, he is the one that would defend himself and say I am not a thief.

“In Nigeria, if you accuse a person of stealing, even if you found him with a stolen item in his hands, he will tell you he is not a thief. It is you that will prove that he is a thief.

“This process has evidence, tendering of evidence and so on. Look at murder cases, look at cases of gender violence like rape, they will ask you to produce expert opinion.

“If you want to conduct one case of post-mortem examination on a dead body, it will cost you not less than N2 million, and if you don’t have that as part of the report indicating that this person died as a result of this and this, your case can be punctured.

“If you have a case of rape, how many people — mothers, fathers and daughters — will allow the process of rape to be subjected to that examination in court and bringing the result to the court and telling the court this is how it happened or bringing the bedsheets and pants.

“These are processes that prolong our prosecution system but they are necessary so the accused has a lot of advantage in drawing the case further.

“We need to explore the quickest possible means of dispensing justice and that has been an issue. Justice delayed is justice denied. We have accepted that fact but we have not been making efforts to improve the quickest means of dispensing justice.”

IGP laments delay in criminal prosecution, says over 20,000 cases in court | The Informant247

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