Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Adoke Calls for Urgent Reform of Nigeria's Criminal Justice Sector

Abuja — The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, has called for an urgent reform of the criminal justice sector in Nigeria, insisting that "efficient justice delivery is central to our national economic growth and development."

The AGF who made the call at the opening ceremony of a 2-day national consultative workshop on the administration of criminal justice bill, in Abuja, stressed that among the issues to be discussed at the seminar, "are the burning issue of access to justice for all irrespective of means, delays in the criminal justice, Pre-trial detention and Awaiting Trial inmates."

He said: "first, a reformed justice sector is key to achieving the transformation agenda of the Federal Government.

Secondly, an effective justice sector in the judiciary and other stakeholders that can provide efficient justice delivery is central to our national economic growth and development.

"Thirdly, it is not an overstatement to say that our budding democracy depends heavily on the just resolution of our individual differences through an efficient criminal justice administration.

It is on these predicates that I commend the Panel on Implementation of Justice Reform (PIJR) for coming up with this national workshop.

"The focus of my ministry since the inception of this administration has been to pave the way for the emergence of a transformed justice sector.

Consequently, we have continued to carry out strategic initiatives aimed at bringing about legal institutional and regulatory reforms within the transformation agenda of this administration.

"The Administration of Criminal Justice Bill will be presented to the National Assembly in no distant time, after this stakeholder's workshop.

The Administration of Criminal Justice Bill 2012 introduced the Central Record System, Restorative Justice Measures and mandatory timelines for carrying out specific tasks by the operators of the criminal justice system.

These will not only generate employment for more Nigerians, they will also make the criminal justice system more robust, humane and responsive to our needs as a democratic nation.

"More importantly, it is our hope that the Bill when passed into law would address the persistent problem of prison congestion by checkmating the Awaiting Trial Inmates (ATIs) Syndrome in the nation's prison.

"I wish to particularly enjoin the various State Governments to support the vision enshrined in this Bill and take proactive steps to ensure that it will enjoy national acceptance at the conclusion of the present review and enactment process which we have set in motion," he added.

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