Category: Criminal justice monitor

Insufficient supreme court justices worsening prison congestion, Falana tells Buhari

Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says insufficient justices at the supreme court is one of the main causes of prison congestion in the country.

In a letter dated June 9 and addressed to President Mohammadu Buhari, Falana asked the president to ratify the appointment of four justices recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for elevation to the supreme court.

According to Falana, the NJC in October 2019, recommended Adamu Jauro, Emmanuel A. Agim, Samuel C. Oseji, and Helen M. Ogunwumiju, all appeal court justices, for appointment as justices of the apex court.

Falana said the president is yet to forward the names of the justices to the senate for confirmation “as required by section 231(2) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended”.

He reminded the president that the number of justices at the supreme court has depleted to 12 as against the constitutionally required number of 21 justices at maximum.

“The need to ratify and forward the names of these justices to the senate for confirmation becomes more crucial and urgent if viewed against the backdrop of the clamour for prison decongestion being championed by your excellency,” Falana said.

“Just last month, your excellency forwarded a letter to the chief justice of Nigeria requesting that measures be taken by the judiciary to decongest prisons and detention facilities across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the information at our disposal, one of the main causes of prison congestion is that the supreme court has not been able to hear and determine many criminal appeals due to lack of enough justices.

“We are persuaded that your excellency would be furthering the cause of prison decongestion by expeditiously ratifying the names recommended by the NJC and forward same to the senate for confirmation.

“In other words, the workload and the number of civil and criminal appeals pending at the supreme court would be significantly reduced if the four Justices are appointed without any further delay.

“While urging your excellency to promote the cause of justice by expeditiously ratifying the names recommended by the NJC and forward same to the senate for confirmation please accept the assurances of our highest esteem and professional regards.”

IHRC approves FCT Chief Judge’s nomination to represent Nigeria in ICC

The International Human Right Commission (IHRC) has endorsed Justice Ishaq Bello, Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory to represent Nigeria in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The endorsement was announced by the Secretary-General, IHRC, Prof. Rafal Wasik when he led his team to visit the Chief Judge in his office on Tuesday in Abuja.

Wasik, who was represented by the Country Representative, Amb. Friday Sani said Bello’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari to represent Nigeria at ICC was a good decision.

Considering the role you played during the lockdown in the country to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in which you put your life and lives of other judges on line.

“Also, by setting up mobile courts to uphold the right of Nigerians and this has since attracted the world headquarters.

“Be rest assured that I shall mobilise our diplomatic ties with countries in the world in support of your election into the international court.

“Therefore, I have concluded to pronounce an endorsement of your nomination on behalf of IHRC,’’ he said.

Wasik, however, urged the Justice to assign a particular judge to deal with the rising cases of rape and maltreatment of children that has become rampant in the country.

He also prayed that Bello continued to insist on the criminal justice system in Nigeria which disallowed an accused from being detained beyond 24 hours without trial.

The Secretary-General also added that IHRC Nigeria be involved in arbitrations to assist in reducing the workload on the judiciary and decongesting the prisons.

Bello, in his response, appreciated IHRC and President Muhammadu Buhari for finding him worthy to be nominated to serve as a judge at ICC.

The judge, who assured IHRC of a robust partnership that would bring about the defense and protection of human rights in the country, assured that all prayers presented before him would be granted.

“In the FCT High Court, I can tell you that we have conceded structural approach that would provide the avenue to address the issues of rape, maltreatment and other related offences.

“For now, we have conceded children and young person’s court to be put in place so that when we have such cases, the children will no longer go to the conventional court.

“We also have a family court which we intend to put in place for re-integration of family members, especially those young ones you see sleeping under the bridges,’’he explained.

IHRC serves as an intergovernmental organization with the intention to bridge the gap between leaders and the led through a high-level diplomatic relations with countries of the world.

Enugu CJ, Releases 24 Inmates, Grants 53 Others Bail

Enugu State Chief Judge (CJ), Justice Priscilla Emehelu, has set 24 inmates free from two different custodial centres within the state.

Emehelu, who was assisted by other judges in the state, also granted bail to 53 other inmates from Nsukka Custodial Centre and Enugu Custodial centre respectively

At the Nsukka Custodial Centre, on Friday, the CJ commended the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Enugu State Command, for being proactive in checkmating the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the custodial centres.

She said that the jail delivery exercise was in line with the provisions of Section 1(1)a-b of the criminal justice (Release from custody) Special provisions Act, laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

“It is also in line with fundamental rights enshrined under Sections 34(1) and 35 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which guarantees the dignity of the human person and presumption of innocence of a person under going trial,’’ she said.

She noted that the challenge of congestion in various custodial centres had become worrisome to the judiciary.

She said that challenge of congestion indeed occupied the front burner more than ever before as nations all over the world were grappling with the monster called COVID-19, hence, the jail delivery exercise.

Emehelu, however, admonished the freed inmates to be of good behaviour and be law abiding citizens as they returned back to the society.

Earlier, Controller of Correctional Services in the state, Mr Joseph Emelue, thanked the CJ and her brother judges for the visit to custodial centres even in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.

Emelue said that the exercise was statutory and an important variable in custodial services management because it created ray of hope for inmates whose cases were reviewed by the chief judge.

“We have ensured strict COVID-19 Protocol observation in the custodian centres and we thank God that the correctional service in Enugu State has not recorded any case of COVID-19,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CJ had on Wednesday, reviewed 200 cases at the Enugu custodial centre.

NAN reports that the while the CJ freed 22 inmates, she, however, granted 46 other inmates bail in liberal terms.

In Nsukka custodial centre, where over 50 cases were heard, with two inmates set freed, seven inmates were granted bail in liberal terms.

Plea Bargain Enhances Quick Return of Stolen Assets — Solicitor-General

The federal government Thursday said that the mechanism of a plea bargain if well deployed is capable of fast-tracking the return of stolen assets to the nation.

Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata (SAN), who described plea bargaining as an important component of the administration of criminal justice was also of the opinion that the concept when fully accepted is capable of reducing litigation costs and time.

Apata spoke in Abuja, while receiving a plea bargaining manual on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami. The manual was developed with the support of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) in partnership with prosecutors and other officials of the Ministry of Justice as well as members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Apata, who was represented at the occasion by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Mr. Umar Mohammed, seized the opportunity to correct the misconception that plea bargaining is deployed to give soft landing to looters of the nation’s treasury.

He said the standardisation of guidelines for the implementation of plea bargaining will promote consistency of practice and enhance public confidence in the process.

“Plea bargaining is an important component of the administration of criminal justice. It helps in the management of the caseload of prosecutors and enables the state to concentrate its limited resources on the cases considered more deserving of full prosecution. If carefully applied, plea bargaining can enhance the quick return of stolen assets. It can also aid the decongestion of the facilities of the Correctional Services,” he explained.

Also speaking, legal consultant to RoLAC and President, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), noted that for any plea bargaining application to be effective, it must be approved by the AGF.

While he stressed that the manual does not place any limitations on the prosecutorial discretionary powers of the AGF, Akinseye-George, however, stated that any agreement reached based on the manual shall be legally binding.

He noted that the manual covers virtually everything that is required to have a successful plea or sentence bargain.

“Article 7.0 outlines a set of 12 guiding principles which must govern plea and sentence bargains.

Akwa Ibom Assembly Rallies Justice Ministry To Reject Plea Bargain Proposal In Gender-based Violence

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has urged the Ministry of Justice to consider bail opposition, while rejecting plea bargaining proposals in gender-based violence cases.
At Plenary on Thursday, the House also directed the Ministry of Justice to vigorously prosecute perpetrators of rape, defilement and other gender-based violence in Akwa Ibom State.
It urged all law enforcement agencies, courts and relevant stakeholders in the Criminal Justice system in the State to consider sexual offences as “a first line priority”.
The resolution followed a Motion sponsored by the Member representing Etinan State Constituency, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Aniefiok Dennis and co-sponsored by the Member representing Nsit Ubium State Constituency, Hon. (Barr.) Otobong Bob.
In his submission, Rt. Hon. Dennis, while lamenting the upsurge of rape cases in the state, revealed that no fewer than fifty-eight rape and violence cases against women have been reported in Akwa Ibom State with the prosecution of over twenty-three culprits in the last six months.
He cited depression, dissociation from reality, post-traumatic stress disorder, unwanted pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases as some of the dangers faced by rape victims. 
He urged relevant government agencies, religious leaders, traditional rulers, Civil Society Organizations, women groups, security agencies, the media, elites and other stakeholders to aggressively address what he described as barbaric and heinous crimes.
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, while responding, commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for assenting to the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law recently passed by the 7th Assembly.
He directed the Clerk, Mandu Umoren to communicate the resolution of the House to the appropriate quarters.
At Plenary, the House also considered Motions on ‘The Need for the Establishment of Customary Court of Appeal in Akwa Ibom State’; ‘Call for Introduction of Marine Patrols in Riverine Communities of Oku Iboku, Itu Clan, Mbiabo, Uruan and its Environs’ and ‘Request for Immediate Take-over of Methodist College, Edem Idim Ibakesi by Akwa Ibom State Government’ sponsored by Rt. Hon. Idongesit Ntekpere (Ikot Ekpene/Obot Akara), Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem (Itu) and Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Bassey (Ini), respectively.
Similarly, A Bill for a Law to Establish Akwa Ibom State Residents Registration Agency and for Connected Purposes and A Bill for a Law to Make Provisions for the Administration of Criminal Justice and for Other Related Matters, sponsored by Hon. Godwin Ekpo (Ibiono Ibom) and Rt. Hon. Aniefiok Dennis (Etinan), respectively, scaled through First Reading and were referred to the House Committee on Rules, Business, Ethics and Privileges for rescheduling. 
Meanwhile, the House has adjourned its plenary to Thursday, June 25, 2020.

MacArthur Foundation host webinar/consultation to address “The challenge of speedy dispensation of justice in Nigeria – impact of the Supreme Court decision in Udeogu V. FRN on Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015”

Recall the Supreme Court on Friday May 8, 2020 held that Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA) which allowed a High Court judge who was newly elevated to the Court of Appeal to return and conclude his part-heard criminal cases at the High Court while also performing his functions as a justice of the Court of Appeal is unconstitutional because it conflicts with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution on the composition of the High Court.

MacArthur Foundation has since 2003 supported criminal justice reform efforts in Nigeria, which led to the to the passage of the ACJA 2015. The foundation has also supported enormously statewide adoption, monitoring compliance of the Act, deepening criminal justice reform, and fast-tracking the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases in the country. Hence, the need for the webinar to discuss the effect of otherwise of the Supreme Court decision. 

The webinar was hosted by Yvonne Darkwa-Poku and had in attendance distinguished personalities and key stakeholders in criminal justice system. Some of the attendees were; Prof. Adedeji Adekunle SAN, Dr. Kole Shettima, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, Chiononye Obiagwu SAN, Feni Falana SAN, Hon. Justice Dije Aboki, AB Mahmoud SAN, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, Sulayman Dawodu and a host of other notable attendees.

‘People only wear face masks to avoid security harassment’

Why schools should not reopen now, by cleric

The CLEEN Foundation has disclosed that most people in the South East region of the country only wear face masks to avoid harassment by security agents and not necessarily to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

It had earlier reported an upsurge in human rights violations and extrajudicial killings by security personnel enforcing safety measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region. 

It explained that at the last count, security agents in the zone had killed no fewer than 12 persons, as documented by observers and monitors deployed by non-governmental organisation (NGO) focused on justice for oppressed people.

Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, who disclosed this in a statement in Abuja, noted that there was also an upsurge in reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence across the country.

He also said there was an increase in reported crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic in the South East amid alleged compromise and extortion by security personnel at the borders, while the ban on interstate travels lasted.
Relatedly, Methodist Bishop and President, Vision Africa International, Dr. Sunday Onuoha, had cautioned against the dangers of reopening schools, as approved by the Federal 

Government, saying reopening the learning centres would be counterproductive in the fight against further spread of coronavirus. Speaking at the weekend, while reacting to the reopening of schools for pupils and students in final classes, he urged governments not to compromise the safety of the school children, saying his position was based on the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic was still spreading rapidly.

He stressed that there was the need to jettison all plans to reopen schools now, pointing out that doing so would expose the students and their families to the virus. Bishop Onuoha, who is also Executive Director of Nigeria Inter-faith Action Association (NIFAA), advised governments to devise ways of keeping the students busy and conduct their examinations without gathering them together, even as the number of infections were increasing

Source: Guardain


qoFIDA GOMBE – on 11th June 2020, FIDA Gombe Visited the Attorney General of Gombe State, he agreed to grant FIDA Gombe a Fiat to prosecute GBV cases; Establish a Gender Desk at the Ministry of Justice Gombe State; push for accelerated passage of the VAPP ACT in Gombe State and push for the Review the definition of Rape in the Penal Code to be in tandem with that provided in the VAPP ACT.

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