Lagos State Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Funlola Odunlami, today in Lagos renewed the call on all residents to comply with the State 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 persons are sent to prison by the Lagos State Mobile Courts.
While acknowledging that the State is 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 a reaction to identified societal challenges and not for revenue generation as 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 determine 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 not-guilty plea, the process provides for the prosecution to present its case and the defence to put up its own as well,’’ it said.
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 residents to be law abiding, noting that every law-abiding citizen has no fear of the laws put in place, as they are meant to serve and bring succour to them.
The statement explained further that non-custodial sentencing is prominent in deserving cases as well as the options of fines instead of imprisonment terms.
It called on all residents to view the State laws as a guide for responsible societal behaviour to save the government unnecessary expenditure in enforcing compliance.
Lagos State government solicits the support of all residents towards ensuring total compliance with the Laws of the State.