Rivers inaugurates Plea Bargain Committee

Ugochukwu Iwuchukwu

The Rivers State Government has inaugurated a thirteen-man Plea Bargain Committee to address the increasing level of withdrawal of cases by parties during criminal matters.

The thirteen-member Plea Bargain Committee will consider applications on a monthly basis and make recommendations to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.

The Plea Bargain law is a provision contained in Section 277 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Rivers State No. 7 of 2015 which avails the opportunity to defendants or accused to apply and secure less severe charge for a lighter sentence in accordance with the guidelines of the law.

Inaugurating the committee in his office, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Rivers State, Zaacheus Adangor said one of the terms of reference of the committee is to prepare plea bargain agreements that are in the interest of the public, interest of justice, and the need to prevent abuse of court processes.

The Commissioner who enumerated the benefits of this section of the law in the society said it will among other things save time and expenses of a lengthy trial.

He also said the law will reduce time spent in custody awaiting trial, removes the uncertainty of sentencing and gives a higher chance of a lighter sentence.

Professor Zaachaus Adangor also charged the committee to take their sensitization campaign to the Port Harcourt correctional centre so that those inmates can take advantage of the availability of the plea bargain in the law.

Our correspondent reports that the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Zachaus Adangor is to serve as chairman, Director of Public Prosecution in the Ministry of Justice, Ibiene Mbano is to serve as alternate chair and Vice-chairman of the committee.

Other members of the committee are drawn from the Security Agencies, the Nigeria Bar Association NBA, Human Rights Organizations, Ministry of Justice, and the bench.