A Lagos High Court has affirmed the power of the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Adeniji Kazeem to file nolle prosequi in any case by the state.
Nolle prosequi means an application for the discontinuance of a case.
Justice Owolabi Dabiri dismissed a suit by the Incorporated Trustees of Law and Awareness Initiative challenging Kazeem’s right to withdraw a pending criminal case against Deepak Khilani and Sushil Chandra.
Justice Dabiri held that the claimant had no locus standi to institute the case.
He held that Kazeem exercised his power of nolle prosequi as granted in Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution in withdrawing the criminal charges against the defendants.
The judge said: “Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution vests in the Attorney-General, the power to institute, takeover, continue and to discontinue at any stage before judgement is delivered in any criminal proceeding instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.
“Section 211 that divested the power to the Attorney-General, however, qualifies that the power requires the Attorney-General to consider the interest of the public, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of processes in the exercise of that power.
“The Director, Public Prosecutions, MsTitilayo Shitta-Bey having clearly explained the ground of public interest upon which the decision of the Attorney-General was based and same was not controverted by the applicant, thus the exercise of the power was lawful and valid.”
In addition, the court held that “the applicant, has no iota or shred of locus standi to have brought this action against the Attorney General”.
The judge held that the applicant was not a party to the withdrawn case and not representing the complainant, adding that the plaintiff was a busy body.
The claimant had asserted that the Kazeem’s withdrawal of the case did not consider public interest and therefore violated of Section 211 (3) of the 1999 Constitution and amounted to an abuse of court process.
The claimant sought an injunction restraining the Attorney-General from exercising such or similar power unless an explanation is made as to the basis of the decision in the case in issue.
The defendant, represented by the DPP, had earlier submitted that the claimant misconceived the law.
Kazeem had in the exercise of his power under section 211 of the 1999 Constitution in a criminal case of Lagos State Vs Deepak Khilani and Sushili Chandra before Hon. Justice Ade Ipaye of the Lagos High Court, issued a nolle prosequi.
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A Report Of The Judgement Of The 16 Divisions Of The Court Of Appeal In Nigeria