Breaking the Power of Impunity: A2Justice helps to Reform and Re-vitalize Coroner Inquest Systems to establish truths about Killings

Across Nigeria, extrajudicial,summary, and killings arbitrary (ejes) have been rampant and chronic; however many relatives of victims of these killings often can’t fight for truth, accountability and justice because security and law enforcement officials involved in the killings effectively but disingenuously rationalize the deaths as the responsibility or fault of the victim(s). Proper, thorough or credible investigations into allegations of ejes had always been a fatal drawback to any struggle to establish the truth of such killings and still is in many States of Nigeria.

Working with the Lagos State government, A2Justice fought to see that the Coroner’s law of Lagos State, which had been dormant over decades, was reformed and revitalized.  In 2007, the Lagos State House of Assembly re-enacted the old Coroner’s law as the Coroner System Law of Lagos State. This law makes it a duty for Magistrates (who are designed as Coroners) to hold an inquest, (that is, a judicial inquiry into the circumstances that lead to deaths in a variety of specific situations) to establish the true facts surrounding those deaths. In doing so, the Coroners will also be able to identify persons who may have contributed to the deaths.  Reforms made to the Coroner’s law created opportunities for public access to coroner courts as well as reports of police investigations; the law de-monopolizes police control of records of investigation, and expands public opportunities of participation in the discovery of truthful information.  

The new Coroner’s System Law will strengthen accountability for unlawful killings, reduce the incidence of extralegal killings and confront a vaulting culture of violence and impunity within law enforcement groups, that was being facilitated by the ease with which perpetrators of extrajudicial killings could, and were often manipulating and distorting internal (police) investigations into complaints of unlawful killings, and insulating themselves from accountability and justice.