Controversy has not stopped to greet the new administration of criminal justice law in Imo which strips of nonpolice lawyers’ power of prosecution.
While majority have kept commending the state government for domesticating the law particularly the lawyers.
Others view it as contrary to certain sections of the Police Act.
Recently, one of the magistrates brought to Urualla in Ideato North Local Government in one of his rulings made it clear that section 182 (d) of the said law contradicts section 23 of the police act and to that extent of inconsistency is well and void.
In his ruling of 04/09/2020, in Charge No: MID/46C/2020: COMMISSIONER OF POLICE V. UZOMA NWOSU, in a heated argument made by defense counsel, Barr. O.P. Anaele, challenging the power of the police prosecution (a non-lawyer) to prosecute the case in view of Section 182(d) of the Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2020 which prohibits the Police prosecution who is not a lawyer, to prosecute a matter with more than one year imprisonment, Senior Magistrate F.A. Ezediaru held that Section 182(d) of the Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2020 which limits the prosecutorial powers of a non-lawyer in the Police Force, to offences which on conviction may be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year, runs contrary to Section 23 of Police Act, Cap P19, LFN, 2004 and as such is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency. When contacted by our correspondent, the defense Counsel, Barr. O.P. Anaele, said that he would discuss with his client (the defendant) on the next line of action “the court has given it ruling and it stands and must be obeyed no matter the fundamental vice that may affect it, it remains legally binding and valid until it is set aside by due process of law and that, I will discuss with my client on necessary steps to take”.
Recall that the entire old Police Act,cap P.19,LFN,2004, had been REPEALED by the Police Act, 2020 recently ASSENTED to by President Muhammadu Buhari. _*HENCEFORTH, ONLY POLICE OFFICERS WHO ARE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS MAY PROSECUTE A CASE IN COURTS IN NIGERIA—- section 66(1) of the Police (Repeal & Re-enactment) Act, 2020*_
By section 66(1) of the Police Act 2020, ONLY a Police Officer who is a LEGAL PRACTITIONER can prosecute. Section 23 which the Senior Magistrate anchored his ruling, does no longer hold any potency in law because the entire old Police Act, cap P.19,LFN,2004, had been REPEALED by the Police Act, 2020 recently ASSENTED to by Mr. President. In effect, any prosecution by a non-Police lawyer is null and void, and of no effect whatsoever, by virtue of section 66(1) of the Act 2020. Thus, it’s a valid ground for objection to any prosecution being conducted by a Police Officer who is NOT a LEGAL PRACTITIONER. That’s one of the high points of the new Police Act 2020.