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Lagos State Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Funlola Odunlami, yesterday renewed call on all residents to comply with the state’s existing laws so as to ensure a better life for everyone.
The call was made in reaction to the publication, in a national newspaper which alleged that innocent people were being sent to prison.
While acknowledging that the state was not averse to public criticisms, she, however, maintained that government has the mandate and responsibility to perform, saying: “Criticism serves as evaluation mechanism through which we fine-tune and improve on our service delivery to members of the public”.
The statement justified the essence of the establishment of the Special Offences Court as in reaction to identified societal challenges and not for revenue generation as being insinuated in the publication.
“The Special Offences Court Law has clearly stipulated proceedings of its own and this certainly is in consonance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria particularly on the principle of fair hearing,’’ it said.
According to the statement, the operation of the court is such that the charges are read and the defendant and his plea determines the course of the case.
“If he pleads guilty, he may at the discretion of the presiding Magistrate be convicted on his plea,.
“In the case of a non-guilty plea, the process provides for the prosecution to present its case and the defense to put up its own as well.’’
The statement added that Counsel from the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) are always available to defend the latter who also has the liberty to choose any other legal practitioner to represent him.
It enjoined the residents to be law abiding, saying that every law-abiding citizen have no fear of the laws put in place , as they are meant to serve and bring succor to them.
The statement explained further that non-custodian sentencing is prominent in deserving cases as well as the options of fines instead of imprisonment terms.