Federal Ministry of Justice Partners, CSLS to train Investigators, Prosecutors
Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), held a two-day national training of investigators, who were drawn from the various Federal criminal justice agencies involved in investigation and prosecution of cases.
The training which held at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, from June 26 to 27, 2018, had participants from anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), The Nigeria Police, the Federal Ministry of Justice, Department of State Services, among others.
Declaring the training open, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the training was necessary in order to reduce the rate of loss of high profile cases in courts, majorly due to lack of proper investigation.
Malami, who was represented at the training by the Federal Justice Sector Reform coordinating Committee (FJSRCC) Secretary, Mr. Felix Ota-Okojie, said there was a gap between investigation and prosecution, that must be filled.
According to him, the investigative capacities of anti-graft agencies, must be strengthened, if the Federal Government’s anti-graft crusade must succeed.
“This seminar represents effort to build synergy and capacity of the various justice sector institutions, particularly in the area of criminal justice administration. There cannot be a successful prosecution, without a thorough investigation. I think this is central to this seminar.
“Our experience in this country, has shown that it is that lacuna between investigation and prosecution, that is responsible for the not-toosuccessful cases that we have witnessed.
“This has raised cause for concern from the public, as to why the Prosecutors are not able to secure convictions in cases that seem to be very obvious. This is why we must continue to work, to see how we can bridge that gap, so that both investigation and prosecution can be effective.
“Stakeholders also need to share experience. This training is also in furtherance of the Ministry’s leadership role, in ensuring that we drive the process of implementing the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which if effectively implemented, will actually improve criminal justice in the country”, he added.
CSLS President, Professor Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, in his welcome address, stressed the need for a greater focus on investigators’ work, which he said would necessitate the establishment of minimum standards and guidelines, and monitoring and evaluation of performance.
According to Akinseye-George, there is also the need for accountability for non-performance and low productivity, provision of incentives, regular training opportunities, and reward for exceptional performances.
“There is no doubt that Investigators perform a crucial function, without which criminal prosecution is impossible; yet Investigators are often not adequately catered for in terms of training opportunities.
“This Seminar is an attempt by our Organisation, not only to provide a training opportunity for Investigators, but also to create an effective platform for interaction amongst Investigators and Prosecutors from various criminal justice agencies. Because their work is similar, an interactive platform as this, will enhance the sharing of knowledge and expertise, building of networks and strengthening of co-operation amongst Investigators from different agencies, which could only promote better service to criminal justice administration in the country.
“Those investigating high profile corruption cases for example, should be protected, well-resourced, and insulated from the corrupting influence of moneybags and high profile Defendants, who have all the resources to influence outcome of investigations”, he said.
The eminent Professor, noted that a report recently published by the National Judicial Council, partly blamed the problem of delays of criminal justice administration on Investigators and Prosecutors, adding that, it is elementary that we cannot have good prosecution without proper investigation.
He however, decried excessive reliance on confessional statements by Investigators and Prosecutors to secure convictions, which he said causes delays due to trial-within- trials.
“It is worrisome that there is excessive reliance on confessional statements by Investigators and Prosecutors, to win convictions. This practice causes delays in trials, due to trial-within-trial, which may run into years. Therefore, it is pertinent to adopt new investigative trends, which leverage on modern technology and forensics”, AkinseyeGeorge said.
Lagos Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, urged Investigators to see corruption as a crime against humanity, adding that the Government must do more to protect those he described as the first line of defence, in the anti-graft war.
“It is often said that, corruption is a victimless crime. Nothing can be further from the truth; this is because, the stolen resources are funds that can be used to reduce poverty, and improve the lives of our people. In the fight against corruption, the greatest people at risk are Adjudicators, Prosecutors and Investigators. It would appear that, Investigators run the greater risk, and as such, huge amount of funds must be dedicated for their protection and welfare. Investigators are usually the best and brightest, of any security organisation. They are elite, with the best analytical minds, so I consider that you should see yourself as the privileged few, the people who are here for this training.
“As Investigators, you are often the first line of defence against corruption, as you have the responsibility to gather necessary evidence that will support the appropriate charges in court. The quality of evidence you produce therefore, has tremendous effect on the decision to prosecute or not, because without thorough and sound investigation, chances of successful prosecution is low, irrespective of the skill or experience of the Prosecutor. In essence, you all play very important roles within your respective institutions, and I encourage you to take this message to your colleagues when you return to your place of work. This takes me to the topic I am asked to speak on – “Importance of sound investigation of high profile corruption cases”.
“Corruption is regarded as one of the most difficult crimes to investigate, often because there is no scene of crime, no fingerprint, hardly any eye-witness to follow up, and the perpetrators, especially in high profile cases, have the financial capabilities to hire professionals to launder their corrupt proceeds. It is therefore, essential for Investigators across the country, to develop a
collaborative approach of sharing information in the course of investigation, and embrace scientific intelligence based techniques which are technology driven”, Kazeem said.
The Attorney-General in his remarks, said Governor Akinwumi Ambode has given approval for the equipment of statement recording rooms in police stations, in compliance with the Criminal Justice Law of the State, and in line with international best practices.
“We identified 15 police commands, including the State command headquarters, to establish
state of the art witness processing rooms with recording equipment”, he said.
Papers presented at the training which were based mainly on doctrinal research include: ‘Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015: Provisions for Expediting Investigation’ by Professor Yemi Akinsye-George, SAN, ‘The Use of Technology in Investigation & Improving the Effectiveness of Anti-Corruption Agencies’ by Omolola Quadri, ‘Investigating Stolen Assets: Principles, Practices, Problems and Lessons from Jurisdictions’ by Kehinde Ogini, ‘Principles and
Techniques of Investigation’ by Chiamaka Nnadika amongst others.
Among challenges highlighted by participants were: use of obsolete investigative equipment and methods, inadequate working facilities and logistics due to poor funding, lack of incentives, lack of training and capacity which leads to incompetence, inter-agency rivalry, which results in poor sharing of information, corruption among staff, lack of public support and apathy, conflicting laws, lack of forensic tools, bureaucratic bottlenecks, among others.
L-R: Chief Suprintendent of Police, Taiwo Kasumu representing the Inspector General of Police, Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, CSLS President, Professor Yemi Akiseye-George, SAN and Secretary, Federal...