My cousin was arrested for rape 3 weeks ago. After he made a cautioned statement to the Police, he was taken to the Ward Executive Officer to record an extra-judicial statement. How can a ward executive officer who is the executive arm of the state be allowed to record extra-judicial statement of a suspect?
Ward executive officers were appointed justices of peace through Government Notice No. 369 of 2004 by the Minister for Justice in exercise of his power under section 51(2) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act, 1984. According to section 52 of the MCA, a justice of peace may be assigned to a Primary Court or District Court house. However, in view of section 57 of the Magistrates’ Court Act, only justices of peace assigned to the District Court houses have the power to record extra-judicial statement of the suspects who are under Police custody. Section 58 of the Magistrates’ Court Act assigns Primary Court magistrates and resident magistrates in Primary Court as justices of peace in the District Court houses within the district in which they are stationed.
GN No.369 of 2004 which appointed the ward executive officers as justices of peace does not assign them to a District Court house. For that reason, ward executive officers can only exercise other powers of the justice of peace but not power to take extra judicial statement of the suspect. Extra-judicial statement recorded by a ward executive officer is therefore objectionable and might not be admitted by a Court.