The Lagos State House of Assembly led by Speaker Mudashiru Obasa recently passed a bill to protect and assist victims of crimes and accidents as well as witnesses who have genuine information which could help the effective prosecution of cases.
Titled a bill for a law to provide for the rights and entitlements of victims and protection of witnesses and connected purposes, the bill which has been described as one that would protect lives and property is geared towards creating a peaceful Lagos society in line with the state’s advancement.
The bill with 71 sections, is the first to be passed by a Nigerian State House of Assembly and creates the establishment of an agency that would assist to meet its stipulations and goals.
Designed to meet the Megacity, or if you like, the Smart City drive of the government, the bill also states how the agency is to be run, the establishment of a Trust Fund and how resources that should make up the fund are to be sourced and utilised. The bill currently awaits the assent of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Below are 10 other things to know about the bill and the agency:
1. Provide necessary assistance to victims and witnesses including measures for treatment, reparation, restitution and rehabilitation.
2. Conduct research into ways victims and witnesses can be effectively treated, rehabilitated, assisted, compensated and protected.
3. Create a conducive environment for witnesses to make statements before law enforcement agencies without fear of any repercussions.
4. Pay compensation to victims or witnesses for any physical or mental harm, loss or damages to property.
5. A victim or witness shall be protected as far as practicable from unnecessary contact with the alleged offender and defence witnesses during trial and proceedings.
6. A victim or witness who suspects that harm may be inflicted on him due to his participation in any investigation can seek protection.
7. A victim or witness can be provided with security, temporary accommodation, permanent relocation, temporary or permanent employment or change of identity.
8. Victims of accidents or crimes must be assisted by the public or security agents and taken to the nearest hospital for treatment.
9. A hospital or facility that fails to treat a victim can face an N1m fine. If the victim dies, the hospital or doctor faces prosecution.
10. A private hospital that receives an accident victim with a severe wound must inform the agency within 48 hours for reimbursement of medical expenses where family members are not known or where the victim is indigent.