Solicitor general tasks states on criminal justice reform

• AGF, NBA President urge prosecutors to fight corruption The Solicitor General of the Federation, Taiwo Abidogun has called on stakeholders in the justice sector to collaborate in the reform of the justice system. He therefore urged states yet to reform their criminal justice to take advantage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) by adopting it in their states. He said the effective implementation of the ACJA would also promote the rule of law and deepen constitutional democracy in the country. He said this at a two-day National Sensitization Workshop on ACJA held in Kaduna State. The Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Mr. Etsu Mohammed, represented Abidogun, who also doubles as Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice.

He said: “The criminal justice system has been bedeviled with a lot challenges, which include human rights abuses, delay in criminal trials arising from incessant adjournments, undue resort to interlocutory applications and absence of witnesses in courts. “Also is the absence of necessary policies and legislation that would facilitate smooth, speedy and effective administration of criminal justice and guarantees free and fair trail of suspects.” He explained that ACJA is a merger and consolidation of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) into one principal Federal Act and it applies to all courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), all Federal Courts and institutions involved in criminal justice administration as well as State Justice Institutions. ACJA, he stated, has in broad terms shifted the goal of criminal justice administration from punishment to restorative justice by focusing on the needs of society, the victims, vulnerable persons and human dignity by repealing those provisions in the criminal laws that have been subjected to all form of abuses. He further explained that while provisions of ACJA could be applicable to both Federal and State institutions in the justice sector, the Act under Section 16 has established a Central Criminal Records Registry in the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) at the Federal, State, Area, Divisional and Station levels and made it mandatory for the Police to transmit the decisions of court in all criminal trials to the Central Criminal Records Registry within thirty (30) days of judgment.

“Presently only six (6) states have enacted their Administration of Criminal Justice Law while the House of Assembly in three states has passed the bill and it awaits the Governors’ assent. “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 said. However, Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who also spoke at the workshop, represented by Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the state, Umma Hikima, said the state has recently passed the ACJ law and it is ready for implementation. Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmud (SAN), have called on law officers to uphold the fight against corruption. The duo made the call yesterday at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Annual General Conference (AGC) for Law Officers, organised by Law Officers Association of Nigeria (LOAN), which took place in Abuja.

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