International Lawyers Project
Nigerian Prosecutor Training
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
The International Lawyers Project at the request of the Lagos Directorate of Public Prosecutions in Nigeria, delivered a five week training course to prosecutors from the Lagos State Ministry of Justice from August - September 2020 with support from ROLE UK. The training had a special focus on advocacy skills for dealing with vulnerable victims and witnesses – particularly women and children – to ensure they can equally access justice. The training aimed to improve the skills and knowledge of prosecutors in order to enhance efficiency, access to justice, and trust in the Lagos justice system.
The 92 prosecutor participants, which included the Director of Public Prosecutions, took part in a combination of live lectures, group exercises, Q&As and tests delivered via the online learning platform Moodle.
Jonathan Fisher QC delivered a week’s training on selecting the right charges, managing delays, working with the police investigators and presentation of evidence.
Lynton Orrett led the second week and focused on handling evidence from vulnerable witnesses for prosecutions and use of medical or forensic evidence in prosecutions for sexual offences.
Janice Brennan, an expert in vulnerable witnesses, led the third week on how to phrase questions to young or otherwise vulnerable witnesses. Here is a link to her lecture.
Oba Nsugbe QC led the forth week’s training with a demo on advocacy techniques to cross examine defendants.
At the end of the course, the Lagos State Attorney General, the Honourable Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN, presented a plaque to the participant with the highest grade, Omowunmi Bajulaiye-bishi, and completion certificates to those who passed the course.
“Thank you ILP for the training conducted at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice Nigeria. As a participant in the training, my professional skills have been polished to meet up with modern and international standards. I look forward to learning more from your wealth of knowledge.” [Omowunmi Bajulaiye-bishi]
ILP and the Nigerian Ministry of Justice are making plans for further advocacy training with ROLE UK as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. It is hoped that the expertise and skills gained from this training can be passed on to successive generations of prosecutors in the Lagos Ministry of Justice.
The Lagos Ministry of Justice asked the experts for their recommendations on how to improve these skills amongst prosecutors, they responded:
Increase advocacy practice for prosecutors, particularly junior prosecutors and adopt a 'train the trainer' model;
Re-shuffling of prosecutors: the trainers note that the prosecutors are continually moved from different departments to join the DPP's office and vice versa. Advocacy is a skill that requires practice and as much as we understand that there is a need to experience all the departments of the MoJ, there is also a need to have areas of specialisation. We recommend that management of MoJ design a career path form which allows management to understand areas of interest, strengths and weaknesses of staff. That can then be a basis for moving people around if need be. But most importantly, prosecutors should be allowed, if it is their wish, to continue practicing as prosecutors. This will lead to greater returns for the ministry;
Mandatory induction for prosecutors: prosecutors who come into the MoJ should complete some form of induction which includes the prosecutors manual, the policies and laws of the DPP and other protocols;
Training for the specialised units on handling sexual offences and child offenders;
The prosecutors' workload seems high and there are long time periods in which defendants await a hearing. Perhaps some structural changes or legislative amendments could help address this - ILP could, if it might be useful, arrange for a confidential experts review and international comparison by a team of specialists which could highlight potential policy or legislative changes that could be made.