Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), says prosecutors must be able to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt because the court is not Father Christmas.
Onnoghen said this on Monday while speaking at a workshop for investigators and prosecutors at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja.
The CJN said prosecutors must ensure that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) is not subjected to abuse by parties in criminal matters.
He explained that the innovations of the ACJA are aimed at strengthening the country’s judicial system.
“I must emphasise that in all criminal trials, the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and this burden is discharged by the prosecution calling witnesses to give compelling evidence against the defendant with relevant exhibits to lend credence to oral evidence as the court is not Father Christmas that will give what you did not ask of it,” Onnoghen said.
“The prosecutors must always be guided to ensure that the spirit of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 is not subjected to abuse by parties in criminal matters.
“I am glad to say that the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 has introduced innovations such as front loading of evidence at the time of commencement of an action, plea bargaining, limitation of adjournments, restitution non-custodial sentencing and forfeiture of assets, amongst others, are some of the innovations aimed at strengthening our justice system.”
According to him, the criminal justice system depends on the effective functioning of all stakeholders.
“The stakeholders have their duties and responsibilities intertwined, as such, the efficiency and effectiveness of one entity can be hampered by the inefficiency and incompetence of the other,” he said.
“In this light, the role of the Judiciary as a key stakeholder in the administration of criminal justice can hardly be discharged without diligent investigation and prosecution.
“Hence, the roles of investigators and prosecutors in the administration of criminal justice cannot be overemphasised.
“As stakeholders, we must promote efficiency in the criminal justice sector by ensuring speedy dispensation of cases, recognising and safeguarding the rights of individuals in line with the salient provisions of the law to ensure that matters pertaining to defendants, suspects awaiting trial and persons whose matters are undergoing investigation, are speedily dispensed with.”