In August 2022, the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Police Command, CP Abutu Yaro appointed Mr Emmanuel Okorie to the Human Rights and Extortion Investigation Committee. This appointment came as recognition for Mr Okorie’s dedication towards the betterment of the criminal justice system in Edo State over the past years. Mr Okorie who has over six (6) years of experience in legal practice and 3 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer, has coordinated legal aid and outreach activities for Hope Behind Bars Africa in Edo state since 2020, as our State Coordinator. He is also actively engaged in the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme, focusing his work on representing indigent and vulnerable persons in Correctional and detention Facilities in Edo and other neighbouring States.
“The law would strengthen the protection of the rights of citizens and ensure fair and speedy administration of justice.” Governor Obaseki, March 2018
The above were the words of Governor Obaseki when he assented to the Administration of Criminal Justice Law at the Government House in Benin-city, Edo state. The law, which was enacted in 2016 and came into force in 2018, repealed the Criminal Procedure Law (Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria 1976) as applicable in Edo State.
The domestication of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in Edo State has been an effective tool in the speedy dispensation of cases handled by Hope Behind Bars Africa in the State. The several laudable provisions have contributed to ensuring that victims of crimes are not left out in the dispensation of justice, especially regarding petty crime.
As a Criminal Defence Lawyer with a background in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Emmanuel Okorie, ensures that dispute resolution mechanisms are put in place by encouraging the parties to meet after the Defendant’s arraignment. This helps Hope Behind Bars Africa determine if the Complainant would be willing to explore out of Court settlement pursuant to Section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), Edo State, which allows a Complainant to withdraw his/her complaint, having satisfied the Court that there are sufficient grounds for the withdrawal; hence, discharging the Defendant.
One of such cases is the case of COP V Favour Okoro MEV/332C/2021. Favour Okoro was arrested for obtaining money falsely through pretence and stealing by sending fake debit alerts to POS operators. Emmanuel Okorie met with parties to settle out of Court, realising the matter’s technicality. He had negotiation meetings with the Complainants, and they agreed to withdraw the charge pursuant to Section 355 of the ACJL, Edo State.
From Emmanuel’s record, 45% of the cases handled so far were settled out of Court pursuant to the above section. This section is limitless, and applies to capital and non-capital offences.
Emmanuel has represented and secured the release of over 150 pre-trial detainees. He played a major role in securing the release of persons arrested and detained during the EndSARS protest in Edo State, appearing before the Mobile Courts that sat within the premises of Edo State Police Command. As an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (AICMC), Emmanuel is always keen to introduce restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to the cases he handles.
The activities of the Human Rights and Extortion Investigation Committee would strengthen Edo State’s criminal justice administration and build public confidence in the Force by preventing police brutality and extortion. The Committee, which is saddled with the responsibility of receiving complaints of police brutality and extortion from the public, will work closely with the Commissioner of Police and the Police Public Relations Officer to ensure that issues of human rights, police brutality, and extortion are adequately attended to. The members of the Committee are accessible to the public, and their phone numbers are in the public domain.
Our mission at Hope Behind Bars Africa is to foster change in criminal justice administration, particularly as it relates to police and corrections, and we are happy to do this through our work with the Committee.