The Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State, Sir Charles Titiloye, Esq, has requested for applications from private legal practitioners for fiat to prosecute cases in the state.

He  said such applicants must be private legal practitioners of not less than three years post call,  must have functional law office within the state and must have paid their  bar practicing fees amongst other requirements.

According to the guideline, the use of private legal practitioners to prosecute criminal cases on behalf of government through the Office of the Attorney General, is premised on the need to develop and ensure speedy criminal trials in the Court of law in the state.

It is equally being undertaken in pursuant of the powers of the Attorney General, under Section 211 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to institute, undertake, take over, continue and discontinue criminal proceedings against any person before any Court of law in Nigeria.

The delegation of powers but the Attorney General,  is also being done in order to promote legal practice and improve on the standard of criminal trials in the High Courts and Magistrate Courts of the state through the deployment and engagement of experienced private legal practitioners in Criminal prosecution of cases in the state.

For an application to be submitted and considered, the applicant for fiat to prosecute criminal cases must be a legal practitioner called to bar in Nigeria and in active legal practice for at least 3 years post call to Nigeria Bar.

The Applicant must be working in a functional Law office/Chambers within the Jurisdiction of Ondo State of Nigeria.

Furthermore, the applicant must have paid his practicing fees to the Supreme Court of the Nigeria, as at when due and also paid tax to the State Board of Internal Revenue for the year (Year of application).

The applicant must also attach to his letter of application, two passport photographs, a letter of instruction from the nominal complainant in the Charge before the Court, a certified true copy of the charge sheet before the Magistrate Court and summary of the facts of the case and intended witnesses.

Evidence of payment of practicing fees and tax for the year must equally accompany the application, while the applicant must have registered with the Office of Department of Public Prosecution, Ondo State Ministry of Justice , with a verifiable office address and Telephone Number(s).

All Applicants must  also submit a written progress report (of case(s) assigned to them) to the office of Attorney General every Four (4) months (that is quarterly), counsel handling a criminal trial/prosecution on behalf of the Office of Attorney General shall not enter into plea bargaining arrangement or settlement of the case out of Court without the prior consent and authority of the Attorney General .

 A Director in the Department of Public Prosecution (D.P.P.) ,  would be designated to supervise and monitor private Counsel(s) handling criminal prosecution on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.

Members of the general public and the Courts in charge of criminal trial, may by a letter addressed to the Attorney General of the state, complain on any misconduct or unethical conduct of private legal practitioner prosecuting criminal trials.

Criminal cases prosecuted by private Legal practitioner on the fiat of Attorney General are pro bono services and attract no remuneration from the nominal complainant or the office of Attorney General.

On grant of fiat to prosecute, the private counsel shall transmit a copy of the letter of grant to the police prosecutor (For Magistrate Court cases), Commissioner of Police and file a copy in the record of trial Court.

 The Office of the Attorney General, reserves the right to refuse to grant application for fiat or cancel or revoke the fiat for private prosecution at anytime during the trial of the court case.

The guideline, according to government,  is effective 1st of January, 2021.

Consequent to the issuance of the guideline and the need for due compliance, all previous Fiat granted by the Office of Attorney General to private Legal Practitioners in respect of pending Criminal cases in Courts, have been revoked.

Counsel handling part-heard cases at the trial Courts before now should continue to appear in those cases on behalf of the Attorney General until their new application for Fiat is regularized.

The guideline was issued by the Attorney General of Ondo State on  24th December 2020.

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