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

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ABSTRACTS:


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…

 

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