For Nigerian citizens to enjoy the benefits of the revolutionary ACJA 2015, criminal justice actors must be ready to fully comply with their roles and responsibilities as stipulated in the Act.
This was the position of the Civil Society Observatory on the Implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria when the group recently visited the Commissioner of Police and the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice in the Lafia, Nasarawa state as part of activities for the Observatory group’s sixth meeting which took place in Nasarawa state.
Like many other states across the country, Nasarawa state is yet to adopt the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 however, during their visit, the group was intimated by the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary on the concrete efforts being made by the State towards having its own Administration of Criminal Justice Law which is at an advanced staged of being passed and he assured the group that it would be passed before the end of 2018.
While commending the enthusiasm and efforts made so far by the Nasarawa State government towards adoption the federal law, the Observatory group appealed to the Solicitor-General to ensure that pitfalls that have been observed in the federal law as well as other states laws that have been passed should be avoided in its own version of the law.
Specifically, drawing from the Observatory group’s experiences from its various interactions and encounters in the discharge of its mandate, the group identified some of the challenges observed in areas of video recording of confessional statements, issue of trial de-novo brought about by death or retirement of a trial judge, extension of remand timeframe in some state laws which deviate from the provisions of the federal law.
As part of its recommendations therefore, the Observatory group urged the Nasarawa State government to incorporate provisions in the law that would address delays brought about as a result of death or retirement of a trial judge;
The group also pointed out that the Nasarawa State law should clearly provide for the agency of the government that will see to the fact that budgetary provision is made for the operation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee, ACJMC for the law, which, from experience, cannot perform without requisite funds.
The Monitoring Committee needs a Secretariat which has to be furnished and adequately funded in order to carry out its oversight functions in seeing to the full implementation of the law;
The group also advocated for uniformity of the State law with the Federal law so as not to defeat the intent and purpose of the laws which is to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
As part of its recommendations to the Nasarawa Police Command in the implementation of the ACJA 2015, the Observatory group called on the police hierarchy to create an ACJA Awareness Desk within the Command which should be manned by a capable official to aid dissemination of information about the law to all personnel within the Command.
The group also pledged to support the Police Command in the sensitization of its officers and men on the provisions of the law relating to the police so as to further strengthen their work.
The Observatory pledges its continued commitment to contributing towards the implementation of the ACJA, 2015 in Nigeria.
The Civil Society Observatory on the Administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria –
1. Mr. Chinwike Okereke, African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), Enugu State
2. Mr. Saviour Akpan, Community Policing Partners for Justice, Security and Democratic Reforms (COMPPART), Akwa-Ibom State
3. Mr. Henry Okereke Justice, Development and Peace Makers’ Centre (JDPMC), Osun State
4. Alhaji Iskil Yusuf, Controller of Prisons (rtd), Oyo State
5. Mr. Okey Nwanguma, Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN), Lagos State
6. Mr. Musa Aliyu Abubakar, Partnership for Development Action, Jigawa State
7. Mr. Mbami Iliya Sabka, Prison Inmate Development Initiative (PIDI), Bauchi State
8. Mr. Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI), Lagos State
9. Mr. Tijani AbdulKareem, Socio Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC), Kogi State
10. Dr. Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, Academic/Independent Legal Consultant, Lagos State
11. Mr. Kehinde Adegbite, Private Legal Practitioner, Oyo State
12. Mr. Robert Ndukwe Ogbogu, Locate Initiative for Missing and Exploited Persons (Locate NG), Lagos State
13. Prof Joy Ezeilo, Women Aid Collective (WACOL) (Observatory Advisor), Enugu State
14. Mrs. Blessing Abiri, CLEEN Foundation (Secretariat), Lagos State