Kano State Administration of Criminal Justice Bill 2017: Commendations and Suggestions

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If things go as planned, the Kano State House of Assembly will do the final reading of the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill 2017 on Thursday the 24th day of January, 2019. The Bill if and when passed into a Law will repeal the Kano State Criminal Procedure Code Law, Cap 37, Laws of Kano State, 1991.

The Bill is the first known attempt to change the old Criminal Procedure Code Law of the State since the creation of the state in 1967, over 50 years ago. For this sole reason, I commend the House.

The Bill consists of 476 Sections carefully categorised into 48 Parts. It covers almost everything on administration of criminal justice from constitution and powers of criminal courts to judgement and appeal. In the paragraphs ahead, I will discuss some of the innovations of the Bill that every Kano indigene or anyone residing in Kano should know. I will as well offer suggestions to be considered before passing the Bill into Law.

Section 27 gives a suspect the right to know the reason for his arrest, except if he was arrested in the act of committing the crime or he is a fugitive. He is also entitled to be informed that he has the right to:
i. remain silent;

ii. consult with a legal practitioner of his own choice before making any statement to the police; and

iii. free legal representation.

Section 28 prohibits anyone to be arrested in place of a suspect. That is to say, you cannot be arrested because your son killed someone or stole money from someone.

Section 29 accords a suspect the right to be treated with dignity and decency. It also prohibits anyone to be arrested on civil wrong or breach of contract.

Section 49 gives a suspect, who is arrested and was not released on bail by the police, the right to be brought before the court after 24 hours, if the offence he was arrested for is not a capital one.

The above and a lot more are part of the Bill for administration of criminal justice. It is going to be a good law. The public hearing for the Bill for second reading is coming up on 24th January, 2019. I believe there will be touching and redrafting of some parts of the Bill before it passes into a Law.

Section 9 (1) and (2), for example, re-establishes Magistrates’ courts, Shari’a Courts and Upper Shari’a Courts. These courts are already established by Kano State Magistrates’ Courts Law 2018 and Sharia Courts Law. The Bill can easily state the jurisdictions of the courts without re-establishing them.

Section 476 repeals the Criminal Procedure Code. But Section 12 of the Bill reads:

“Section to the provision of section 143 of the Criminal Procedure Code (124 ACJL)…”

The question here is, if the Criminal Procedure Code is repealed as stipulated by section 476, can the Bill when passed into Law be subjected to it? In other words can an existing law be subjected to a repealed one? Here the drafters lifted the provision of section 143 of the CPC verbatim. And somehow they forgot to erase the source. They need to sit and look into this and any other issue of its nature.

There are clerical errors here and there as well. In some places, you will see ‘the prosecutor’ and in other places you will see ‘the prosecution’ all referring to the same party.

In some places you will see ‘Magistrate’s Courts’ with an apostrophe ” ‘s” after magistrate. And in some places you will see ‘Magistrates’ Courts.”

In many places you will see ‘a accused.’ In some places the first letter of the accused is in uppercase. In some places it is in lower case.

I believe the above and many others will be considered.

Thank you for reading.

Sani Ammani Esq. is a Kano based legal practitioner, a legislative drafter and a poet. He can be reached via amklean@gmail.com.

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