Powers Of Lagos Attorney General To Withdraw Cases Upheld

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By;  MATTHEW  UKACHUNWA,  Lagos

A Lagos State High Court has justified the right of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, to withdraw a criminal case.

Justice Owolabi Dahiru made the pronouncement while dismissing a suit instituted by Incorporated Trustees of Law and Awareness Initiative challenging the power of the attorney-general to withdraw a pending criminal case against Deepak Khilani and Sushii Chandra.

The judge cited Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to uphold the right of Kazeem to withdraw the case.

The section of the Constitution under reference,  Justice Owolabi declared, “vests in the attorney-general the power to institute, takeover, continue and to discontinue at any stage before judgement is delivered in any criminal proceeding instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.”

The judge said that Section 211 that divested the power to the attorney-general, however, qualifies that the power requires the attorney-general to  consider the interest of the public, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of the processes in the exercise of that power.

He stated that the Director of Public Prosecution, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, having clearly explained the ground of public interest upon which the decision of the attorney-general was based and same was not controverted by the applicant, thus the exercise of the power was lawful and valid.

“The applicant has no iota or shred of locus standi to have brought this action against the attorney-general ,” the judge ruled.

He pointed out that the applicant was not party to the withdrawn case and is not representing the complainant.

The claimant argued that the withdrawal of the matter by the attorney-general did not consider public interest, and, therefore, violated Section 211 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, thereby amounting to an abuse of court process.

The claimant had sought an injunction restraining  the attorney-general from exercising such or similar power unless an explanation was made as to the basis of the decision in the matter,  

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