Stakeholders collaboration in reform of justice system needful – Malami

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

UYO (AGF’ Report)- The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has said that the need for Stakeholders in the Justice Sector to collaborate in the reforms of the Justice System cannot be over emphasized.

He stated this in his welcome address at the National Sensitization Workshop on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 on Tuesday May 30, 2017 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Malami, represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Taiwo Abidogun, said that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Justice had implemented far reaching reforms which is aimed at improving justice delivery through collaboration with states to drive the reform of the Justice Sector and inspire public confidence in the Justice System.

“This workshop provides the platform for us to discuss issues of common interest, share ideas and best practices that will assist the various institutions in the criminal justice system to effectively implement the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, promote the rule of law and deepen Constitutional democracy in our country”, he explained.

He further stressed that the Criminal Justice System had been faced with a lot of challenges, which includes; human right abuses, delay in criminal trials arising from incessant adjournments, undue resort to interlocutory application, absence of witness in court and absence of necessary policies. Also, the legislations that facilitate smooth, speedy and effective administration of Criminal Justice and guarantees free and fair trails of suspects. More so, to address the identified militating factors that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 was enacted.

The Minister explaining further said, “The Act merged and consolidated the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) into one Principal Federal Act. It applies to all Courts in the Federal Capital Territory, all Federal Courts and Institutions. The Act has preserved to a large extent the existing Criminal Procedure laws and also introduced far reaching innovative reforms of the Criminal Justice System in the country’’.

He reiterated that the Act would promote effective and efficient Criminal Justice Administration through the enhancement of the capacity of the Justice Sector institutions to collect, preserve, share and manage crime information. Adding that it will equally remove impediments to speedy dispensation of justice, protect the society from crimes and protect the rights and interest of defendants, victims and society at large.

On the arguments as to whether the Act applies only to the Federal Capital Territory or whether it is a national application, Malami said, “With respect, I am of the view that the Act can be said to be of national application given that some of its provisions apply to both Federal and State institutions in the Justice Sector. For instance, the Act under section 16 had established a Central Record Registry in the Nigerian Police Force at the Federal, State, Area, Divisional and Station levels and made it mandatory for Police to transmit the decisions of the Court in all criminal trials to the Central Records Registry within thirty (30) days of the judgment, among others”.

He urged the States that are yet to reform their criminal justice to take advantage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act by adopting same in their states.

Concluding, he emphasized that States adoption of the Act would lead to quality crime prosecution, increase efficiency and effectiveness in criminal justice administration and above all, inspire public confidence in nations justice system.

In his opening address, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo said, “ I feel highly elated that the confluence of fate and the purposeful design to enthrone a functional criminal justice system for the nation, has brought us together today”. He added that the development will not only usher in a new dawn in the criminal justice administration, but would equally engender the evolution of a truly restorative justice principle within the limits of contemporary global benchmarks.