Legal Nigeria

Lagos Justice Summit: NBA Ikeja Chair Seyi Olawumi Commends AG Lawal Pedro, Urges Legal Practitioner-Led Prosecutions

The Lagos State Ministry of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Mr. Lawal Pedro, SAN, is set to host the Justice Reform Summit 2024, themed “Enhancing the Administration of Justice, Investment Protection and Security in Lagos State.” Scheduled for May 27-28 2024 at the Marriott Hotel, G.R.A Ikeja, this summit aims to address critical issues in the justice system amid ongoing economic challenges.

In a letter to the Attorney General of Lagos State, Seyi Olawumi, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja Branch, lauded the initiative by the A.G of Lagos State, Lawal Pedro, SAN. Olawumi emphasized that the summit provides a crucial platform for legal professionals, policymakers, and advocates to discuss and address the multifaceted challenges facing Lagos State’s justice system.

One of the paramount issues highlighted by Olawumi for the AG to urgently address is the prosecution of criminal matters in Lagos Magistrate Courts by non-lawyers. This practice, described as a “misnomer” and “an embarrassment to the profession,” has been a longstanding concern. According to Section 66(1) and (3) of the Police Act 2020 and Section 106 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, prosecution should be handled by legal practitioners. However, many criminal cases in Lagos Magistrate Courts are still prosecuted by non-lawyers in the police force.

Olawumi stated that utilizing police officers for prosecution not only depletes the human resources available for frontline law enforcement duties but also encroaches upon the professional responsibilities expressly granted to licensed legal practitioners. The NBA Ikeja Branch calls for an immediate prohibition of this practice in compliance with existing provisions of laww.

Olawumi also urged the Attorney General to address other pressing issues, including constraints on access to justice due to court practice directions, undue delays in concluding tenancy matters, and the need for mandatory franking and certification for construction contracts. He further seeks an address on the welfare of state counsel, mental health and well-being of lawyers, and the integration of technology into legal practice will be key topics of discussion.

The summit, hosted by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, aims to reinforce public trust in the legal system and ensure that justice is both fair and accessible to all citizens of Lagos State. The NBA Ikeja Branch remains ever committed to working with the Attorney General’s office to procure sustainable solutions, implement reforms, and build a justice system that upholds the rule of law and protects the rights of all citizens.