Effective justice system has been identified as a tool for sustained development and growth of any nation.
Apart from the fact that it brings sanity to the society by maintaining law and order, it also stablises the polity and guarantee investors confidence in their area of operation.
But beyond the civil litigation, effective administration of criminal justice system has come under focus, it is believe that this also has a greater role to play in ensuring a stabilised environment.
Stakeholders at various times have stressed the needs to review the system with the aim of removing the clog from the wheel of justice.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN in his capacity as the Attorney General and Commissioner for justice in Lagos effected many changes in this area through various stakeholders summits.
Some other state emulated this noble idea and its results underscores the need for its replica at the federal level.
And so it was with great admiration when the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, ACJA was passed into law.
The provision is set to among other things shows the need for quick dispensation of justice, particularly it focuses in protecting the rights of the victims and the defendants as the case may be.
It encourages restorative justice, modernises criminal justice tools and create oversight of institutions involve in criminal justice system.
Above all , it is aimed at improving public confidence in the justice sector as well as harmonising the rules and procedures for criminal cases across courts and across states.
In summary it is an umbrella body and life wire of administration of criminal justice system.
ACJA applies to FCT and federal courts, institutions and agencies.
At the state level, ACJA applies to courts and federal institutions operating in the state.
It gives time frame for criminal trials and forbids unnecessary delay via the abolition of stay of proceedings.
But since its adoption into law, how effective has it been?
A roundtable discussion organised by the CLEEN Foundation gave an insights into this.
The 2-day Training programme on “Monitoring and Advocacy For the Implementation of ACJA 2015” brought together lawyers, media practitioners and members of the civil society groups.
During the discussions, it was noted that more still need to be done to ensure the strict adherence to the letter of ACJA 2015.
Top on the list of the recommendations is the robust relationship between the civil society groups to engage the stakeholders charged with the implementation of ACJA.
Targeted stakeholders are: the Ministry of Justice, magistrates, police and prosecutors.
Emphasis was placed on the magistrates because of their closeness to the masses especially those affected by ACJA.
Remand and search warrants usually emanated from the magistrates.
According to the participants, the magistrates need to be alive to their responsibilities in ensuring that people’s rights are not trampled upon with impunity.
Some of the points also identified are the need for strict adherance to recording of statement or so called confessional statement, creation of crime registry diary for effective tracking of cases from police stations to court, the need to ensure that bail is free, non custodian alternative and parole system.
Some of the speakers however addressed the need to build more prisons and making them more conducive.
Chino Edmund Obiagwu speaking on behalf of Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP spoke passionately on the need to decongest the prison and making it a real reformation centre.
It was also brought to the fore that ACJA forbids overnight arrest and arrest in lieu, according to ACJA under special circumstances capital offences are bailable.
Other suggestions for monitoring of implementations of ACJA are management of crimes scenes, decentralisation of police Command, Community monitoring Committee, reporting and documentation of cases as well as punitive measures.
Other measures are the need to ensure that Police send in monthly report of arrest and cases to the Ministry of Justice to have adequate data.
The case of a former governor of Delta State, James Ohananefe Ibori came under focus, according to the participants, accurate data would have prevented the controversy that trailed his conviction by an Area Court in Abuja.
The event was rounded off with the presentation of Survey findings of ACJA in Nigeria by CLEEN Foundation and evaluation of questionnaires on participants.
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