Delay in the prosecution of criminal cases by courts is one of the challenges against dispensation of justice, but a prosecutor has shared his experiences on some of the reasons behind it.
In an exclusive chat with THE WHISTLER, a lawyer working with the Department of Public Prosecution, DPP, Federal Ministry of Justice, Barrister John Okpa, said several factors, including witness reluctance and too many case files, are militating against the speedy administration of justice in court.
Okpa is one of the counsels representing the prosecutor in several criminal cases at the Grade 1 Area Court sitting in Kubwa, under the Bwari Local Government Area of the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the assistant Registrar of the court, Idris Kolo Mohammed, over 200 criminal complaints were filed in the Grade 1 court in 2021.
Out of these, only 90 cases were treated while the rest were referred back to the police for conclusion of investigation.
The court is said to have jurisdiction over matters in the Bwari LGA alone.
But citing his experience in prosecuting criminal suspects, Okpa said that judges have numerous cases to treat and that results in cases not being concluded on time.
He also cited witnesses’ reluctance to come and testify in court as a major challenge, this is because it is through witnesses and evidence that parties prove their case.
He said, “It is a challenging experience both with the defendants and the nominal complainants. Also, in court, cases are not supposed to last more than six months to one year, they should decide a matter within a short time.
“One of those factors is that the judge has many cases; in a cause list, a judge may have more than 30 cases.
“Also, the society have not being enlightened and they don’t like coming to court. When you file matters in court, you call them, but they will not come; the witnesses and even those who initially made the complaint at the police station.”
Speaking further, the Grade 1 Area court’s assistant registrar, Mohammed revealed that most of the cases in 2021 included breach of trust, trespass, intimidation, cheating, and burglary.
Barrister Okpa added that he also faced the problem of logistics, especially in moving suspects from correctional centres to court.
“Sureties are not always reliable. Defendants jumps bail and surety is nowhere to be found,” Okpa said.