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Prerogative of mercy: Sanwo-Olu Ordered Release of 246 Convicted Inmates’, 39 In Death Row Got Life Imprisonment – Pedro



Pic From left, Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary Lagos Ministry of Justice, Mrs Titilayo ShittaBey-Jeje; Lagos State Attorney General / Commissioner for Justice, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN) and Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso during the Lagos State 2024 Ministerial Press Briefing by the Ministry of Justice in Lagos on Wednesday (22/05/24)
In line with state prerogative of mercy and a gesture to ensure that justice is tampered with mercy, governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu granted the order of release of 246 convicted inmates and committal of 39 death row inmates to life imprisonment in 2023.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lawal Pedro (SAN), disclosed this at the 2024 Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the first year of the second term of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration in office, held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Ikeja on Wednesday.
Pedro said that the state prerogative of mercy was a gesture was to ensure that justice is tampered with mercy, and a means to correct or mitigate potential injustices within the legal system.
According to him: “This power allows the state government to show leniency or compassion in cases where there may be compelling humanitarian grounds.”
Pedro said that the Lagos State government has secured over 320 judgments in favour of the government in various courts across the state in the last one year, adding that the state government approved 100 plea-bargains in the same year.
Lawal said that Office of the Public Defender (OPD) secured 230 judgments in favour of the state, adding that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) obtained 40 judgments, while the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) secured over 50 judgments.
Pedro said: “In the period under review, a total number of 230 judgments were obtained in favour of the state by OPD. This is in addition to receiving a total of 4,272 petitions and 1,788 court cases (family, industrial, civil, and criminal court cases) across seven of its office locations, including six outstation offices, and OPD headquarters, or through the courts.”
He revealed that the OPD handled 1,812 child-related cases, 316 domestic violence-related cases, and 29 rescue missions, adding that the agency further received a total of 1,988 cases via court and correctional centres (criminal, industrial, civil, and family related cases), out of which 448 had been successfully concluded, with the office receiving the total sum of ₦59,326,549 on behalf of its clients and beneficiaries.
According to Pedro, the DPP obtained 40 judgments in courts and 11 plea-bargains, with seven cases struck out and four others discharged in the last one year, adding that the Directorate received 377 files for legal advice, out of which it issued 229 advice, with 148 files pending.
The commissioner stated that 158 plea-bargain applications were received by the Directorate, out of which 100 were approved, two declined and 56 pending.
The SAN said the Directorate for Citizens’ Rights in the period under review received 755 petitions on family matters, 131 petitions on employee/employer matters and 744 tenancy matters, out of which 539 (family matters), 80 (employee/employer) and 577 (tenancy matters) were resolved respectively.
He said the Citizens’ Mediation Centre (CMC) in the period under review received a total number of 35,655 matters for mediation, out of which 20,691 were treated and resolved, adding that 14,964 matters were undecided as a result of non-attendance of concerned parties at mediation sessions.
“Based on the agency’s guiding principles and core values that justice is delivered irrespective of status or socio-economic background, the agency received the sum of N183,721,134 on behalf of parties being the settlement of debt related matters,” he noted.
On the DSVA, the Attorney General revealed that the agency handled 4,641 adult domestic violence cases and 2,976 children cases, with 118 rape cases and rescued 64 people in the last one year, adding that the agency obtained over 50 judgments in courts, 36 restraining order, handled 652 social welfare cases, concluded mediation in 107 cases and reached over 800,000 people in the community through advocacy and sensitisation.
Pedro also disclosed that a total number of 10,266 offenders were arrested, arraigned and convicted for various minor offences by the Lagos State Special Offences (Mobile) Court, saying that the actions of the court had been able to reduce criminal activities of miscreant by charging them to court and ensuring custodial sentencing.
The Attorney General added that the Lagos State Special Taskforce on Landgrabbers in the period under review received 582 petitions out of which 120 were concluded, saying that other notable achievements included 71 enforcement approvals and 33 inscription approvals.
He said that to protect the right to possession and occupation of any property in Lagos State and guard against the use of force, the taskforce obtained nine judgments in favour of the state government, adding that there are currently 35  land-grabbing cases in court.
Pedro further said that during the period under review, the Lagos State Ministry of Justice spearheaded the expansion of the Lagos Criminal Information System (LCIS), significantly enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice administration.
He explained that this initiative involved the integration of advanced technology to create a comprehensive and accessible database of criminal records, stating that key features included real-time data entry, improved case tracking, and seamless information sharing among law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and the judiciary.
“The scaling up of LCIS aims to reduce case backlogs, ensure accurate and timely access to criminal records, and foster greater transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system. This strategic enhancement not only streamlines operations but also strengthens public trust and safety in Lagos. The LCIS has recorded a total of 62,117 cases/inmates between 2018 and May 9th, 2024,” he said.
In addition, Pedro said the Directorate of Civil Litigation responsible for representing the state in all civil matters involving the state government, its Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) during the period under review, received a contingent liability in terms of claims in court to the tune of N1, 602, 430, 012, 517.71, explaining that this is in addition to the contingent liability in favour of the state government, which has increased to N95, 644,801,659.71.