Lagos State Judiciary has launched the Practice Directions for Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJL, and the Restorative Justice that will usher in a new era in the Criminal Justice Administration in the State.
The Chief Judge of the State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, speaking at the launch held at the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja, said that the Practice Directions is expected to address the myriad of challenges ranging from ineffective or incomplete investigations and delays in criminal trials, among other issues confronting criminal justice administration in the country.
Justice Oke added that apart from addressing incomplete investigations, the newly launched Practice Directions would also achieve the goal of expedited trials, improvement in the case disposal rates and also culminate in the decongestion of prisons.
In her words, “these Practice Directions are being launched today in keeping with my vision to ensure speedy resolution of our criminal cases and the entrenchment of restorative justice in the administration of justice in Lagos State to create more avenues for access to justice and a holistic approach to criminal justice administration.”
Oke recalled that Lagos State has been at the vanguard of Criminal Justice Reform when it passed the ACJL in 2007, amended it in 2011 before other States followed suit.
She listed some of the highlights of the ACJL Practice Direction to include Introduction of the Plea Bargain and Case Management Protocol to ensure that the Prosecution and Defense are properly prepared before the trial opens, such that when the trial opens, the hearing would be concluded within 365 days.
The Chief Judge stated that once the Practice Direction comes into operation on 3rd June 2019, minor offences will be diverted to relevant centres and Restorative Justice outcomes applied to ensure that persons who commit minor offences will no longer end up in jail but would instead face non-custodial sentences including fines, restitution orders, community service orders and so on.