100 Years After, Lagos Set To Implement New Criminal Law Provision
Jul 21, 2009 - Almost a Hundred years after it was enacted by the colonial masters, Lagos State Government on Tuesday commenced moves to implement the provisions of the amendment to the criminal laws of the State.
Speaking while receiving the report of the committee on the Reform of the Criminal Code of Lagos State at Lagos House, Ikeja, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) promised that very soon everyone would begin to see manifestation of the State Government’s commitment to begin the implementation of the report.
Governor Fashola asked the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Supo Sasore (SAN) to immediately set the machinery in motion so that the recommendations contained in the report of the committee is presented at the Executive Council Meeting on Monday for further action and decisions towards implementation.
The Governor added that since 1916 and thereafter what has been happening has been talk and talk but now the decision of the administration is that “we will do and do”
He explained that laws are made for man and not man for law, adding that the only way to demonstrate this is by continuing to note that the society remains dynamic, evolving and changing.
Said he: “New crimes have emerged that our criminal laws and codes are unable to deal with. Our society is fast changing and evolving with impact of emerging technologies and lot of crimes and unacceptable behaviours are also emerging in those areas”.
He expressed the hope that a vibrant law reform commission will respond and make crime unprofitable while ensuring that government secures the interest of tax paying citizens.
He added: “We see crime as a business and our business is to run the competition out of business. Our profit would be a safe and secure populace”.
He stressed the need for reform which would ensure that it is not just a centennial affair which the criminal code reform is turning to but a recurring and periodic event which the Ministry of Justice must consider as a necessity, adding that if the Ministry currently has no law reform department, it should set up one immediately.
He emphasized that: “the primary reason why we have this momentus privilege to head Government is because we have a responsibility to secure life and property. That is the primary responsibility of government and must be the focal point of every head of government that at whatever level you find yourself, whether in the magistracy or chief executive of the state, we could never effectively discharge our responsibility if the enabling tools, laws, courts, prison systems are not positioned to function efficiently”.
He revealed that one of the decisions taken by the administration was to stand on the successes of the immediate past government on the administration of justice and move to the lower rungs that affects the ordinary people on a day to day basis and to reform the Magistrates courts system, its law courts and personnel.
He added that reforms is ongoing at all the three levels, stating that the magistrates courts law and procedure is being reformed just as the courts that also need to be updated in terms of digital recording equipment is witnessing reforms.
He said attention should now focus on criminal justice system as it relates to the enabling law, adding that so many people have spoken about what needed to be done but the present Government has decided to stop talking but start doing.
Governor Fashola said he is inspired that the Committee comprised of people with the ‘can do spirit’ and an evidence is by virtue of the report submitted by the committee, stating that the committee was able to forge a common stand on what the law should be because of the caliber of leadership it had.
He described the Committee report as one which he could not wait to receive, adding that the recommendations would be a great leap forward from where the law has been and thanked the committee members for the thorough job they did.
Speaking earlier while presenting the report, the chairperson of the committee, Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa said the report being submitted is in two volumes consisting of an executive summary, a draft law and commentaries and explanatory notes on some of the recommendations.
She revealed that the reforms proposed include a change of title from the Criminal Code to Criminal Law of Lagos State which is in line with the simplicity of language that underlies the drafting style of the proposed law.
“Where it considered it necessary, the committee either abolished or created new offences while it similarly abolished some defences and created new ones as the exigencies of contemporary life in Lagos State dictated”, Professor Atsenuwa also said.
According to Professor Atsenuwa the committee also maintained the balance between interest of protection of society and rights of victims of crimes and rights of offenders and in relation to penalties it was guided by twin consideration of encouraging more use of non custodial measures and ensuring that the punishment imposed fits the crime.
Said she: “Specifically the proposed law adopts restorative justice as one of the goals of criminal justice administration and also proposes the preferred end that sentencing should serve”.
She added that offences that made some classes of people vulnerable to abuse of policing powers such as wandering were revisited and appropriate reforms proposed.
Also speaking, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Supo Sasore (SAN) said a lot of silent work is being done in the judicial sector to improve the lives of the people.
He said the report is a testimony to the quality of leadership that Lagos is providing to the rest of the country.
Members of the Committee include Mr Supo Sasore (SAN) Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Associate Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa, Chairperson, Mr Akeem Bello, Asst. Commissioner of Police, Godwin Nwobodo, Mr Seth Amaefuna, Mrs A.O Isaacs, Mr Kelvin Nwosu,, Mrs Tola Akinsanya while Mrs Toyin Odusanya acted as the Secretary.