LEDAP today lauds the President’s landmark act of signing the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill (ACJ Bill) into law. The Law will no doubt significantly tackle the challenges in our Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria.
This signals the end of long delays in investigating and prosecuting criminal cases as the Law contains innovations and very proactive provisions that could drastically reduce delay, increase case management, build efficiency and inculcate the respect for human rights in the administration of criminal justice.
It is worthy of note that LEDAP has for almost 2 decades implemented projects on improving criminal justice administration in Nigeria through the training of prosecutors on human rights norms and good practices in criminal case management; review of the Criminal Procedure Laws as well as encouraging Ministries of Justice to be more efficient in the prosecution of cases.
In 2004, LEDAP with the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Justice initiated a comprehensive study of the federal criminal justice administration with the aim of identifying the constraints and making proposals for improvement. The study was undertaken by the National Working Group on the Reform of the Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria, which came out of the partnership.
In recognition of LEDAP’s leading role in building capacity for improved criminal justice delivery in the country, LEDAP’s national coordinator, Mr. Chino Obiagwu was appointed to chair the committee. With 15 persons drawn from all organs of criminal justice sector including the police, prisons, defence, state security, Bar, judiciary, and NGOs, the working group meet across Nigeria and received reports from a wide section of stakeholders over 18 months.
The report of the group was deliberated in 4 stakeholders’ seminars at national and regional levels, and relevant input received to improve the recommendations. The final report was adopted by the Federal Ministry of Justice in December 2006, with a recommendation for a federal implementation; including a draft legislation prepared by the ministry from the recommendations of the working group now called the Administration of the Criminals Justice Bill was first introduced in 2007.
LEDAP uses this opportunity to call on the president to sign into law other justice bills waiting for his assent, especially the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition Bill) and the Disability Bill. We are also hopeful that other states will adopt this law within this legislative year. LEDAP is willing to provide technical support on the state-level presentation of the bill.