A CRITIQUE OF THE POWERS OF ATTORNEY GENERAL IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA

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A CRITIQUE OF THE POWERS OF ATTORNEY GENERAL IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA

Abstract:

In the system of Administration of Justice in Nigeria, Attorney General occupies a very prominent position. As the Chief Law Officer and Minister for Justice, Attorney General exercises a controlling authority in the conduct of any civil proceeding affecting government or any of its agencies. For example, no garnishee order affecting public funds in the hand of any public functionary or any corporation or organization shall be executed without the prior consent of the Attorney General. In Criminal Cases, the Attorney General as the Chief Law prosecutor for the state, has power to institute and undertake, take over and continue or discontinue any criminal proceeding instituted by him or any other person or authority what so ever. In the exercise of the aforementioned powers, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had held that the Attorney General is a master unto himself, law unto himself, and is under no control – judicial or otherwise whatsoever. The exercise of his discretion in that regard is final and irreversible by even his appointer and is subject only to public condemnation in the court of public opinion. This dissertation however, questions the validity of the above position of the Supreme Court based on the general character of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the historical development of the powers of Attorney General under the same Constitution, the Nigeria‟s local circumstances and the Rules of Interpretation of statute/ Constitutional provisions. The dissertation therefore, calls for the judicial restatement of the law and makes recommendations for the reform of the Constitution in such a manner that would ensure the redemption of the office of Attorney General from the exclusive control of the executives and curve political influence on the performance of his duties. The dissertation also questions the constitutionality of the requirement for the consent of Attorney General in the enforcement of garnishee orders against government or any of its agencies under S. 84(1 & 3) of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act Cap.S6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and calls for the repeal of the same…

A CRITIQUE OF THE POWERS OF ATTORNEY GENERAL IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA

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