Delimitating the Prosecutorial Powers of Police Officers for a More Efficient Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria

By Sylvester C. Udemezue

This writer believes that the passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 has brought to an end the use of police officers who are not lawyers in prosecution of offences under the Act. Opinions are however divided on the true state of affairs in this respect. While many believe that the powers of Police officers to prosecute cases has been whittled down by the ACJA, to the extent that only police officers who are qualified as legal practitioners may prosecute offences under the Act, some are of the view that the prosecutorial powers of lay police officers have not been completely taken away.

This commentary offers what the writer believes is a fair guide on the limits of prosecutorial powers of police officers under the ACJA, 2015. Recommendations are then made in favour of extending the feat achieved with ACJA to other procedural criminal law statutes and jurisdictions in the country, especially in view of the dangers the writer considers inherent in continued participation of lay police officers`[1] in criminal prosecutions in Nigerian courts.  Lastly, there is a word on how progress in this direction could contribute in enthroning a more efficient, efficacious and rewarding system of criminal justice administration in Nigeria.

The Legal Practitioners Act (LPA), 1975 affords Legal Practitioners in Nigeria a right of audience in all the courts in Nigeria. The Act[2] provides:

“Subject to the provisions of the next following subsection and of any enactment in force in any part of Nigeria prohibiting or restricting the right of any person to be represented by a legal practitioner in proceedings before the Supreme Court or the Sharia Court of Appeal or any area or customary court, a legal practitioner shall have the right of audience in all courts of law sitting in Nigeria.”

The term, “legal practitioner” as used in the Act[3] refers to any person who “is entitled in accordance with the provisions of the Act to practice as a barrister or as a barrister and solicitor, either generally or for the purposes of any particular office or proceedings.” A person is said to be entitled to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor in Nigeria if, and only if, his name is on the Roll,[4] or he is permitted by warrant under the hand of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to practice law for the purpose of particular proceedings.[5] Besides, a person exercising the functions of any of the offices of the Attorney-General, Solicitor-General or Director of Public Prosecutions (of the Federation of Nigeria or of any State) or a Legal Officer in the Federal or State Civil Service shall be entitled to practice as a barrister and solicitor for the purposes of such office.[6]

In effect, all persons who are by law entitled to practice as Legal Practitioners in Nigeria have an automatic right of audience before all courts in Nigeria. “Right of audience”[7] is a term generally used to refer to the right to appear and be heard in a given court. In Nigeria, it denotes the right of a Legal Practitioner to appear and conduct cases in that capacity in courts of law, on behalf of his or her clients. In UZODIMMA V. COP[8] the Supreme Court of Nigeria struck down the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code,[9] which had purported to deny Legal Practitioners the right of audience before Area Courts by providing that “no legal practitioner shall be permitted to appear to act for or to assist a party before an area court.” In that case, the apex court, relying on the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which grants an accused person a right to be represented in court by a counsel of his choice,[10] made it clear that any law that hinders a Legal Practitioner`s right to appear before any court in Nigeria is unconstitutional, null, and of no effect.

Many lawyers and law students believe that this right of audience in court is an exclusive remit of qualified Legal Practitioners, which by extension means that in criminal trials, just as in civil proceedings, only qualified lawyers have the right of audience in court. However, the provisions of the Police Act[11] appear to derogate from this notion. The Act provides:

“Subject to the provisions of sections 174 and 211 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (which relate to the power of the Attorney-General of the Federation and of a State to institute and undertake, take over and continue or discontinue criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, any police officer may conduct in person all prosecutions before any court, whether or not the information or complaint is laid in his name.”

Nevertheless, in interpreting provisions cited above, the Court of Appeal had held in OLUSEMO V. C.O.P.[12] that any police officer could prosecute in superior courts but that such police officer should have been called to the Nigerian Bar. Thus, while all police officers were entitled to prosecute cases before inferior courts in Nigeria, only those police officers duly called to the Nigerian Bar were permitted to prosecute in superior courts of record. This dichotomy between inferior and superior courts was later displaced by the Supreme Court of Nigeria which held in the case of FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA v. OSAHON[13] that all police officers, whether or not they were qualified as lawyers, were entitled to appear and prosecute cases in all courts in Nigeria.  This position remained undisturbed until the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJL), 2015, which now governs all criminal trials for offences created by any Act of the National Assembly as well as offences punishable in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, but does not apply to Court Martials.[14]

The modes of instituting criminal proceedings under the ACJA are set out in sections 109 and 110 of the Act as follows:

  • In the Magistrates` Court, by a charge or complaint whether or not on oath or upon receiving a First Information Report;
  • In the High Court, by information filed —
  • by the Attorney-General of the Federation[15] in respect of an offence created by an Act of the National Assembly; or
  • by “any other person” on the authority of the Attorney-General of the Federation[16] in respect of an offence created by an Act of the National Assembly;
  • In the court, by information or charge filed –
  • by a “private prosecutor”[17] or
  • by “any other prosecuting authority”[18] or
  • after the defendant has been summarily committed for perjury by a court under the provisions of this Act.”[19]

The word “charge,” as used in the Act, means statement of offence or statement of offences with which a defendant is charged in a trial whether by way of summary trial or trial by way of information before a court.[20] “Complaint”[21] means an allegation made before a court or police officer, that a named person has committed an offence; complaint is made for the purpose of moving the said court or police officer to issue a process. “Court” is defined[22] to include “Federal Courts, the Magistrates` Court and Federal Capital Territory Area Courts,” while “high court” refers to “the Federal High Court or the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.”

With respect to the power or authority to institute criminal proceedings, the combined effect of sections 174 and 211 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, is that the power of criminal prosecution in Nigeria resides with the Attorney-General of the Federation and of the States. Section 174 (1) provides, in respect of the Federation, thus:

“The Attorney-General of the Federation shall have power

  • to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court-martial, in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly; 
  • to take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person; and 
  • to discontinue at any stage before judgement is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.

Upholding the powers of the Attorney-General (AG) in this respect, the Supreme Court of Nigeria held in the case of STATE v. ILORI,[23] that the powers conferred on the Attorney-General under the Constitution are unquestionable, absolute. In other words, with respect to criminal prosecution, the Attorney-General is a law unto himself, and his decision in this respect could not be questioned in any court of law. Hon Justice Kayode Eso, JSC, who delivered the lead judgment in that case, set out the following statement,[24] which remains the law till date: 

“The pre-eminent and incontestable position of the Attorney-General, under the common law, as the chief law officer of the State, either generally as a legal adviser or specially in all court proceedings to which the State is a party, has long been recognized by the courts. In regard to these powers, and subject only to ultimate control by public opinion and that of Parliament or the Legislature, the Attorney-General has, at common law, been a master unto himself, law unto himself and under no control whatsoever, judicial or otherwise, vis-a-vis his powers of instituting or discontinuing criminal proceedings. These powers of the Attorney-General are not confined to cases where the State is a party. In the exercise of his powers to discontinue a criminal case or to enter a nolle prosequi, he can extend this to cases instituted by any other person or authority. This is a power vested in the Attorney-General by the common law and it is not subject to review by any court of law. It is, no doubt, a great ministerial prerogative coupled with grave responsibilities.”

In EZOMO v. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF BENDEL STATE,[25] the Supreme Court described the Attorney-General as a law unto himself. And while rationalising the awesome powers conferred on the Attorney-General in criminal prosecution, the Supreme Court in the case of ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF KADUNA STATE v. HASSAN,[26] explained that the makers of the Constitution were wise to have made it so, because the AG was both the legal and political officer who was answerable only politically for acts done in the Ministry. It should however be recalled that the AG shares his power to institute and prosecute criminal proceedings with the Police, special prosecutors and even private persons, as the case may be, even though police powers in criminal prosecution are subject to the powers of the AG who has absolute power of control over all other prosecuting authorities in Nigeria.

Until 2015, the decision in FRN v. OSAHON held sway. The ACJL, 2015, in an attempt to put a stop to lay police officers` involvement in criminal prosecution, and to restrict the right to prosecute criminal cases under the Act to only qualified legal practitioners, now provides in section 106 that prosecution of all offences in any court shall be undertaken by only the following persons:

  • The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF); or
  • A Law Officer in the AGF`s Ministry or Department; or
  • A legal practitioner authorized by the AGF; or
  • A legal practitioner authorized to prosecute by this Act or any other Act of the National Assembly.”[27]

This is subject to subject only to the provisions of the Constitution relating to the powers of prosecution by the Attorney-General of the Federation.[28] The Act goes further to provide that all charges filed to commence criminal proceedings in any Magistrates` Court to which the Act applies must be signed by any of the persons mentioned in section 106 of the Act.[29] A further breakdown of the provision of the ACJA dealing with right to undertake criminal prosecutions under the Act shows that such prosecutorial power is reserved for only the following persons and authorities:

  • The Attorney-General of the Federation;[30] or
  • Law Officers in the AGF`s Department or Ministry;[31] or
  • The Attorney-General of a State, if so authorized by the AGF;[32] or
  • Legal Practitioners acting under the authority of the AGF or who are so authorized by the ACJA or by any Act of the National Assembly;[33] or
  • A public officer prosecuting in his official capacity under directions given by the AGF;[34] or
  • Any other person, so authorized by the AGF;[35] or
  • A private prosecutor;[36] or
  • Police Officers;[37] or
  • Other prosecuting authority;[38] or

            It is humbly submitted that the terms “police officer,” “any other person,” “private prosecutor” or “other prosecuting authority” who are permitted under the Act to institute or undertake prosecution of offences under the Act must be Legal Practitioners, in view of the provisions of section 106 and 110 (1) of the Act. Accordingly, any police officers, private prosecutors or other persons involved in criminal prosecution under the ACJA must be persons duly called to the Nigerian Bar as Barristers and Solicitors. Similarly, any public officer who is empowered to prosecute in his or her official capacity under directions given by the AGF, as provided for in section 268 (1)[39] must necessarily be either a Law Officer in the AGF`s Ministry or Department or any other person entitled to practice law for the purpose of any particular public office, including such officers in the public service of the Federation, or of a State as the Attorney General of the Federation or of a State may by order specify or designate.[40] In addition to the AGF, the Solicitor-General, and the Director of Public prosecutions, the following officers have been so designated:[41] Directors; Deputy Directors; Assistant Directors; Chief Legal Officers; Assistant Chief of Legal Officers; Principal Legal Officers; Senior Legal Officers; Legal Officers; Pupil Legal Officers, etc.[42]

The term “police officer” is defined in the Police Act[43] to refer to “any officer of the Force.” However, in recognition of the crucial role several other Law Enforcement Agencies play in criminal investigations, trials and administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, the ACJA has expanded the term “police officer,” for purposes of the Act, to include “any member of the Nigeria Police Force established by the Police Act or any other officer of any law enforcement agency established by an Act of the National Assembly.”[44] This means that members and officers of government agencies and bodies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NCDC), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the State Security Service (SSS) (also known as the  Department of State Security (DSS)), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the National Agency for Food and drug Administration (NAFDAC), and other law enforcement agencies, whose names are on the Roll of legal practitioners in Nigeria, may also undertake prosecution of criminal proceedings for purposes of the ACJA, as “police officers.” Note however that it is only members of these Government Agencies or Departments who are employed as Legal Officers or in the legal departments/units of such Agencies or Departments that may appear in court as advocates to prosecute any case on behalf of such Agencies and Departments. Merely being a lawyer and in their employment, is not sufficient. Rule 8 (1) of the RPC[45] provides as follows:


“A Lawyer, whilst a servant in a salaried employment of any kind, shall not appear as an advocate in any court or judicial tribunal for his employer except where the lawyer is employed as a legal officer in a government department.”

This writer respectfully believes that some distinction exists between “prosecution” of criminal proceedings and mere “initiation” or “institution” of criminal proceedings without more. The latter may include the former; the former does not include the latter. Note however that sometimes, the AG may, after the initiation or commencement of criminal proceedings, farm the case file out for actual prosecution by a private legal practitioner.[46] And as seen from the provisions of the ACJA, a person or authority may possess power to initiate criminal proceedings but lacks powers to prosecute the same proceedings.[47] In my humble opinion, officers and members of the police force or other law enforcement agencies who are not lawyers may have some roles to play in initiating criminal proceedings under the ACJA, but NO such officers are entitled to prosecute any criminal proceedings under the Act unless they are also legal practitioners. This is the purpose and actual effect of section 106 of the ACJA. That section is not concerned with initiation or institution of criminal proceedings, but with “prosecution,” which it insists must be undertaken by only qualified Legal Practitioners and no one else. Assuming, but not conceding, it is correct that the term “police officer” as used in section 268 (2) does not exclude lay police officers, then, since that subsection is concerned only with “institution” or initiation, and not with “prosecution,” such lay police officer may initiate criminal proceedings in the name of the IGP or COP, as required by the subsection, but actual prosecution of the proceedings is the exclusive preserve of legal practitioners, in line with section 106 of the Act. Section 268 (2) does not confer any right on a lay police officer to “prosecute” any criminal cases under the Act.

Accordingly, the blanket ban (on powers of non-lawyers to prosecute criminal cases) extends to prosecution of criminal cases in all the courts to which the ACJA applies — both inferior and superior courts. The powers of such non-lawyer officers to participate in criminal proceedings in court are now limited to investigation of offences or complaints and filing of the First Information Report (FIR), in the manner explained in the next paragraph.


Where a complaint is brought before a police officer in charge of a police station concerning the commission of an offence, the Police officer shall reduce or cause the complaint to be reduced into writing and shall thereafter conduct investigations as may be considered necessary. If after such investigations the police officer considers that the prosecution of the alleged offence will serve the public interest, the officer shall reduce the complaint into the prescribed form called First Information Report (FIR) and the officer shall take the alleged suspect with the FIR to a Magistrate within jurisdiction. Such Magistrate shall then conduct a hearing in respect of the FIR for purposes of determining whether or not to frame a formal charge, and where the Magistrate is of the opinion that there is reasonable ground that the suspect has committed an offence triable by such or other Magistrate, the Magistrate shall frame a charge and proceed to formal trial or direct that the suspect be tried in another Magistrates` Court. Where such Magistrate believes that the case is one which ought to be tried by the High Court, the Magistrate shall transfer the case and the suspect to a High court for trial upon charge or information in accordance with the provisions of the ACJA. During the hearing of the FIR by the Magistrate, to determine whether or not a prima facie case has been made out against the suspect, the Magistrate may hear some evidence for or against the suspect, and for purposes of this hearing, some examination, cross-examination or re-examination of witnesses may be taken by both the suspect and the prosecutor.

It is submitted that the meaning attached to the word “prosecutor” as used in section 112 (9)[49] must not derogate from the meaning of the word “prosecution” in section 106, the reason being that the latter has confined the power of prosecution exclusively to persons who are qualified as legal practitioners. Hence, any examination, cross-examination or re-examination permitted to be undertaken by or on behalf of the prosecution at the stage of hearing of (or inquiry into) the FIR must be by a duly qualified legal practitioner, whether or not he is a police officer.  Participation of lay police officers should end with the filing of the FIR and perhaps standing as witnesses during the hearing of the FIR or of the offence.

In view of the above, this writer holds the humble view that section 112 of the ACJA does not empower a lay police officer to prosecute criminal cases in the Magistrates` Courts during the hearing of the FIR. What is done at the FIR stage could not appropriately be referred to as prosecution because formal trial or prosecution would usually commence with an arraignment upon a charge or information which must be read and explained to the accused person and his plea taken.[50] FIR is not a formal charge, but a mere report or allegation that may or may not give rise to a formal charge. Hearing of the FIR is hence in the nature of a further inquiry or further investigation into a police report (known as the FIR), by the Magistrate to verify the Report with a view to determining whether or not a prima facie case has been made out against the suspect to warrant the framing of a formal charge, which would kick-start a formal trial before the Magistrate, another Magistrate, or a High Court, as the case may be.

Beside the aforesaid, the suspect is never to be convicted at the stage of the hearing of, or inquiry into, the FIR, save upon his own admission and not otherwise,[51] because the guilt of the suspect could not be said to have been proven “beyond reasonable doubt” as required by law. All the that the “prosecutor” is required to prove at that stage, and which is what the Magistrate needs to satisfy himself of, is that there is ground that the suspect has committed an offence which the Magistrate is competent to try or which ought to be tried by the High Court.[52]

What is more? Some authors and legal experts have interpreted the provisions of section 268 (2)[53] as tending to confer on lay police officers, power to prosecute criminal proceeding in the name of the Inspector-General of Police (I.G.P.) or Commissioner of Police (C.O.P.). I respectfully disagree. It is my view that while that section permits institution of criminal proceedings in the name of the IGP or COP by a police officer, only a police officer duly qualified as a lawyer is entitled to prosecute such proceedings in the IGP`s or COP`s name under that section. Section 110 (1) makes it mandatory that all charges in Magistrate Courts (to which the ACJA applies) must be signed by legal practitioners.[54] Additionally, the provisions of section 106 of the ACJA, as cited above, leave no one in doubt that all criminal prosecutions under the Act must be undertaken by only duly qualified legal practitioners, whether or not they are police officers. It must be repeated here that section 106 of the ACJA is subject only to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Consequently, one may conclude that with the advent of the ACJA, 2015, prosecution of criminal cases under the ACJA has fallen among the various rights exclusive to legal practitioners in Nigeria, just as the rights guaranteed by the combined effect of sections 2, 8, 22 and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act,[55] or by the Companies & Allied matters Act,[56] or by sections 150 (2) and 195 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,[57] as well as the provisions of the Constitution relating to qualification for appointment as members of superior courts of record in Nigeria, with the exception of Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal.[58] The right or power granted to the police officers to conduct in person all prosecutions before any court, whether or not the information or complaint is laid in his name”[59] thus remains available but only to police officers who are duly qualified as legal practitioners in Nigeria.

Similarly, the Supreme Court decision in FRN v. OSAHON[60] granting police officers a blanket right of criminal prosecution in all courts in Nigeria is now altered in relation to courts to which the ACJA applies; such right is no longer available to lay police officers. Even the case of OLUSEMO v COP which had tended to preserve rights of lay police officers to undertake such criminal prosecution in inferior courts is no longer good law, because the ACJA has placed a total embargo on rights of lay police officers to undertake any criminal prosecution in all courts (both inferior and superior) to which the ACJA applies. In effect, the ACJA has confined lay police officers to their traditional police functions which include the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property, and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, in addition to performing such military duties within and outside Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of the Police Act or any other Act.[61] This is a step in the right direction.

Having said this, it is considered pertinent here to recommend that relevant governments and stakeholders should, as a matter of urgency, set necessary machinery in motion to amend provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice (Repeal & Re-enactment) Law, Lagos[62], the Criminal Procedure Code Act and the Criminal Procedure Laws of the various States in Nigeria, so as to extend or replicate this innovative step started by the ACJA to all other courts and criminal jurisdictions in Nigeria, with a view to completely removing lay police officers from all aspects of criminal prosecution in all parts of Nigeria. Such move, which is long overdue, would considerably reduce the amount of delays currently being experienced in criminal proceedings and ensure a speedier and more effective administration of criminal justice.

Lay police officers’ involvement in criminal prosecution is partly responsible for the worsening cases of awaiting trial[63] cases and prison congestion in the country. Because of their professional limitations in this area, so many of the so-called police prosecutors are not able to match or withstand the legal firework of professionally qualified lawyers who act as defence counsel in courts during criminal prosecutions, because these lay police officers do not understand the intricacies of formal courtroom proceedings and trial procedure, and more often than not have very little or no preparation prior to their court appearances.

There is no doubt that when lay police officers are finally completely disengaged from criminal prosecution in all the courts in the country, more jobs would be available for professionally qualified legal practitioners; prosecution of all criminal cases in all courts in Nigerian would then be taken over by only lawyers. However, the clamour for extrication of lay policemen from criminal prosecution is primarily not targeted at creating more jobs for lawyers, but rather at leaving criminal prosecution in the hands of lawyers who alone understand the law and are well able to match the expertise of defence counsel in court, fire-for-fire, to ensure that justice is dispensed in good time and more efficiently.

However, as beautiful as the switch from the ugly era of lay prosecutors to prosecution by duly qualified lawyers may seem, there appears to be one major challenge that stares us in the face, in the event of full implementation of the move. The manpower capacity for prosecution appears insufficient; the Federal Ministry of Justice and the various State Ministries of Justice do not currently have the required manpower requirement to effectively cope with the pressure that would follow a 100-percent disengagement of lay prosecutors from criminal trials. Hence, there is need to increase significantly the number of lawyers in the employment of government Ministries and Departments, especially the Ministries of Justice, in readiness for this challenge.

Nonetheless, the situation may not be as bad as one contemplates because the Nigerian Police Force itself has in its employment (that is, in its legal department) a sizeable number of trained lawyers who are capable to undertake criminal prosecution alongside public Law Officers and other special prosecutors, subject to the power and control of the Attorneys-General. Apart from the Police, each of the other law enforcement agencies, the EFCC, the ICPC, the NSDC, the DSS, the NIS, the Nigerian Customs, the NDLEA, the NAFDAC, FRSC, etc., has a legal department peopled by competent lawyers who usually play the role of Special Prosecutors in specialized criminal trials. Their efforts would no doubt augment those of the Police, the Ministries of Justice and Government Departments.

Furthermore, the recent practice by some Law Enforcement Agencies of retaining external solicitors[64] and then of farming out to such solicitors specialized briefs for purposes of criminal prosecution, could also assist in ensuring efficiency and speedier prosecution of criminal cases. Meanwhile, each Local Government Council in the Federation should be encouraged to set up a Legal Department or legal section within the Council area. Such Department or Section would be staffed by legal practitioners, who apart from playing other equally important roles and attending to the legal needs of the Local Government Council, could assist in prosecution of some cases, especially in courts located within the local council areas.

In conclusion, it could now be said that there is hardly any good ground for continuing to accommodate lay prosecutors within the Nigerian criminal justice space. The practice of using policemen who are not lawyers to prosecute criminal cases in Nigeria dates back to the colonial era; there was then insufficient number of qualified lawyers to handle such cases, thus justifying their involvement which used to be in the nature of extemporization. Happily, today, the legal profession in Nigeria has come of age; there are currently over 60,000 qualified lawyers in Nigeria. So, just as it happened in 1913 when an application by one J. Osho Davies[65] to be appointed a local (self-taught) attorney in Nigeria was turned down by the Chief Justice of Nigeria on ground that the era of self-taught attorney was over in Nigeria, today, in 2017, the use of lay prosecutors in the Nigeria`s criminal justice administration has become outmoded and ought to be discontinued in all courts, as the practice has done, and still does more harm than good to our judicial and justice system. The Nigerian Federal legislature (the National Assembly) deserves kudos for the innovative stride in the ACJA, 2015, but the job is not complete until all other relevant statutes are modified to follow suit, so as to rid our criminal justice system of activities of quack prosecutors who, as far as criminal prosecution is concerned, are nothing but square pegs in round holes.

[1] A term I prefer to use to describe police officers who are not Legal Practitioners or are not entitled to

    practice law generally, for the purpose of their offices or for the purpose of particular proceedings.

[2] The Legal Practitioners Act, 1975, Cap L11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (as amended), s. 8 (1).

[3] LPA, S. 24.

[4] An official list or roster kept in at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, containing particulars of all persons who have been called to the Nigerian Bar as Barristers and Solicitors. A person whose name is not on the Roll is not entitled to practice as a legal practitioner in Nigeria, except as provided for in section 2 of the legal Practitioners Act (supra); else, the person is guilty of the offence of impersonation under section 22 of the same Act.

[5] The Legal Practitioners Act, s.2 (2).

[6] Op Cit., s.2 (3).

[7] See (accessed at 12.08am on 23 August 2017)

[8] (1982) 1 NCR 27

[9] s. 390

[10] Cap C23, LFN, 2004 (as amended), s. 36 (6) (c).

[11] The Police Act, Cap P19, LFN, 2004, s. 23.

[12] (1998) 11 NWLR (PT 575) 547

[13] (2006) 5 NWLR (pt. 973) 361

[14] See the ACJA, 2015, s. 2.

[15] Op. Cit., s.104 (1).

[16] Op. Cit., s.104 (2).

[17] Op. Cit., s.109 (e)

[18] Op. Cit., s. 109 (d)

[19] Op. Cit., s. 109 (c)

[20] ACJA, s.494 (1)

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid

[23] [1983] 1 SCNLR 94

[24] at page 106

[25] (1986) 4 NWLR (PT 36) 448

[26]  (1985) 2 NWLR 483 115

[27] ACJA, s. 106.

[28] Ibid

[29] ACJA, s.110 (1)

[30] Ss. 106 and 268

[31] Op. Cit., s. 106 (a).

[32] Op. Cit., s. 268 (4). Note that such authority may be given either generally or in respect of any offence or class of offences. But in any case, must be prosecuted in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

[33] Op. Cit., s. 106 (b).

[34] Op. Cit., s. 268 (1).

[35] Op. Cit., s. 104 (2).

[36] Op. Cit., s. 109 (e).

[37] Op. Cit., s. 268 (2).

[38] Op. Cit., s. 109 (d).

[39] ACJA

[40] Cap L11, s.2 (3) (b).

[41] See Entitlement to Practice as Barristers & Solicitors (Federal Officers) Order, 1992

[42] See also the Entitlement to Practice as Barristers and Solicitors. (National Assembly Office) (Legal  Practitioners) Order, 1995; Entitlement to Practice as Barristers and Solicitors (Federal Housing Authority) (Legal Practitioners) Order 1995; Entitlement to practice as Barristers and Solicitors (Federal Road Safety Commission) (Legal Officers) Order 1997.

[43] Cap P19, s. 2.

[44] Op. Cit., s. 494 (1).

[45] Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007.

[46] See FRN v. Adewunmi (2007) All FWLR (Pt 368) 978; COP v. Tobi ((2009) All FWLR (Pt 483) 1302; Ibrahim V. The State (1986) I NWLR 650

[47] See ACJA, s. 112

[48] See ACJA, s. 112 (1), (6), (9), (10), and (11).

[49] ACJA

[50] See DIBIE v. STATE (2004) 14 NWLR (PT 893) 257 and OMOJU v. FRN (2008) 7 NWLR (PT 1085) 38 for the requirements of a valid arraignment in a criminal trial.

[51] Op. Cit., s. 112 (8).

[52] Op. Cit., s. 112 (10) and (11)

[53] ACJA

[54] Op Cit., s. 109 (d)

[55] supra

[56] Cap C20, LFN, 2004, s. 35 (3).

[57] supra

[58] See sections 231 (3); 238 (3); 250 (3); 254B (3) and (4); 256 (3); and 271 (3). Cf. ss. 261 (3), 266 (3), 

       276 (3), & 281 (3).

[59] As guaranteed by the Police Act, s. 23

[60] supra

[61] Police Act, Cap P19, LFN, 2004, s. 4

[62] Law No 32, 2011

[63] When a defendant in a criminal case is remanded in prison custody or detained in a prison until a later date when a trial or hearing will take place, the person is said to be awaiting trial. The majority of prisoners on remand have not been convicted of a criminal offence and are awaiting trial following a not guilty plea.

[64] Note that in Nigeria, “solicitor” includes “barrister,” and vice versa. Once qualified as a lawyer in

     Nigeria, a person is entitled to practice as both a barrister and a solicitor. The two words may therefore

     be used interchangeably

[65] Before 1914, persons who were not formally trained as Legal Practitioners could practice law in Nigeria under certain circumstances as a result of inadequate number of professionally qualified practitioners. See YUSUF ALI SAN LLM, FCI Arb, “LIBERALIZATION OF LEGAL SERVICES: PERSPECTIVE OF NIGERIAN LEGAL PRACTITIONERS AND LAW FIRMS,” being a paper delivered on 23 August 2017 at the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, held at the Landmark events Centre, Oniru Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. (accessed at 12.12pm on 28 August 2017), p. 4.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *