Tag Archives: Common Law

Jurisprudential Appraisal of Nolle Prosequi in Nigeria (Published)

The Latin phrase nolle prosequi which means I do not want to prosecute or I do not want to continue to prosecute is used in the temporary or total termination of criminal or civil cases before judgment in most of the countries that are within Common law jurisdictions. This concept or practice which has its prominence now in the trial of criminal matters is the basis of the power of the Attorney-General to terminate criminal cases before judgment in Nigeria. This position of the law received its strongest endorsement in the much quoted case of Ilori v. State[1]. In this case, the Supreme Court amongst other ratios held that the Attorney-General can enter nolle as many times as he wishes over a matter and that this decision cannot be questioned by the court or any other person. We take exception to this view that the Attorney-General cannot be required to place before the court the reason for his action in the light of the clear provisions of sections160 and 191 of the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria with similar provisions as in sections 174 and 211 of the current 1999 Constitution as amended, which depart slightly from the original Common Law position of the law. This is the crux of this paper where we gave reasons why the apex court should overrule itself on the issue.

[1] S.C. 42/1982, reported in 1983) 1 SCNCR 94 or (1981) 14 N.S.C.C 69. It shall hereunder be referred to as Ilori’s Case.

Keywords: Attorney general, Common Law, Jurisdiction, Nolle prosequi