Credits – 
Dansuki, the former National Security Adviser can get off the corruption charges by plea bargaining, do you agree? 

If you are Nigerian or you
follow news and updates from my country, then you will be familiar with the
current anti-corruption campaign sweeping over the country with the Office of
the National Security Adviser under the Goodluck Jonathan administration right
in the middle of it.  I expressed to a
colleague that the culprits may not see the inside of the jail cell if they
plea bargain and return the stolen national funds but my colleague disagreed
until I shared the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act

Plea bargaining is one
area of criminal law practice that is yet to be explored in Nigeria  and very few Nigerians know it even exists in
our jurisprudence. Maybe, if we use it more often, it will serve as a means of
reducing the cost and time to government of prosecuting an alleged offender, it
will in turn ensure a smoother and faster administration of justice process and
it gives an accused person an opportunity to plead to a lesser sentence.

The Black’s Law Dictionary
defines “plea bargaining” as a negotiated agreement, between a prosecutor and a
criminal defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to a
lesser offense or to one of multiple charges in exchange for some concession by
the prosecutor. In Nigerian law, the enabling provision of the law for plea
bargains can be found in Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice
Act, 2015.

The law in subsection 1
provides that –
“1) Notwithstanding
anything in this Act or in any other law, the prosecutor may:
a)      Receive
and consider  a plea bargain from a defendant
charged with an offence either directly from that defendant or on his behalf;
b)      Offer
a plea bargain to a defendant charged with an offence.”

Furthermore, the
prosecution may enter a plea bargain with the defendant if the evidence isn’t enough
to prove the commission of the offence beyond reasonable doubt; the defendant
has agreed to return the proceeds of the crime or make restitution; where in a
case of conspiracy the defendant has fully cooperated with the investigation
and when the Prosecutor believes it is in the interest of justice or public
interest. The Prosecutor must however consult with the investigating police

In determining whether
entering a plea bargain is in the interest of justice, the prosecutor will
consider the following –

The defendant’s willingness to cooperate in
the investigation and prosecution of others;
The defendant’s criminal history
The defendant’s remorse or willingness to
accept responsibility for his conduct.
The desirability for prompt disposition of
the case;
The likelihood of obtaining a conviction;
The probable sentence or consequences if
the accused is sentenced;
The need to avoid delay;
The expense of a trial and appeal;
The defendant’s willingness to pay

There are numerous
advantages to Nigeria embracing the plea bargain provision in our Administration
of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, such as a decongested prison, reduction in cost
of prosecution and also the opportunity for the accused to leniency after
showing signs for remorse. I hope lawyers are making the best of this legal
provision for the interest of their clients and the prosecution is also doing
same for the interest of the public.  
Onibokun Esq,