‘ACJ law empowers judges to compensate victims of crime injuries’
The Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice (Amendment) Law (ACJL) 2021 has empowered trial judges to award compensation to victims of crimes who suffer injuries as a result of an action of a guilty defendant.
The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, disclosed this while addressing newsmen on some unique features of the ACJL, signed into law recently by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
According to Onigbanjo, Section 372 of the law gave power to judges to award commensurate compensation in criminal cases, where victims have suffered losses or injuries unlike in the past where this only applies to people who have suffered financial losses.
He said: “Section 372 gave power to the judges to award compensation in criminal cases where victims have suffered losses or injuries. The judge also has the power to forfeit the property of the guilty defendants or any other person or state and order them to be sold to compensate the victims of crimes.
“So, it no longer applies to people who suffered financial damages but also to people who suffer injuries by the action relating to that crime.
“In doing so, the court in considering the award of compensation to the victim may call for additional evidence to enable it determine the quantum of compensation to award.”
Onigbanjo also revealed that Section 370 of the ACJL mandated the state to establish a crime data register. He said the data register would be an electronic repository of information on suspects and offenders either convicted or awaiting trial who pass through the criminal justice system from the point of arrest through prosecution and until the judgment is delivered.
Onigbanjo further stated that the register would also serve as a criminal records database and organisations in the state may apply to obtain criminal records, particularly for sex offenders.
“It will also assist the police in the investigation of crime as sufficient information on all convicted persons would be available, which should make it easy to identify convicts in subsequent proceedings,” he added.
The attorney-general also cited Section 298, which empowers the court to make an order of interim forfeiture of property before the commencement or conclusion of a trial where there is reasonable ground to believe such property has been used or provided for the commission of the offence charged.
He noted that the section also empowers the court to make an interim order to freeze monies in such account where there is reason to believe that monies in an account are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of illegal or unlawful transaction and will not be available during and after the trial.