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Lagos seeks to decongest prisons through plea bargain


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The Lagos State Government has said it will reduce the number of cases in courts and decongest prisons in the state through plea bargain.

The Director of the Office of the Public Defender, Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, said the government believed that the legal tool would improve the justice system.

She spoke at the agency’s office at Surulere, Lagos, during a workshop on plea bargain and child justice system.

The programme, organised by the OPD, was supported by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption in Nigeria.

The training was attended by judges, magistrates, prosecutors and counsel in the state ministry of justice and representatives of the five branches of Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, among others.

Adeyemi said, “What we have realised is that as the year goes by, the dockets of defendants increase. We discovered that one of the sure ways to reduce our workload and decongest the prisons and courts is to use plea bargain. As a state of example and leadership, we want to do it right and that was why we collaborated with NITA, which provided faculty members for the training.”

She noted that the participants would also be trained in how to handle cases involving children in conflicts with the law and children in contact with the law.

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, in her remarks, said the gains of plea bargain could be realised through adherence to stipulated benchmarks which should guide negotiations with defendants.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Kazeem Adeniji, said the government hoped that the training would improve the understanding and performance of lawyers to serve residents better.