NGO Seeks Implementation of Criminal Justice Law

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Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), a non-governmental organisation, has called on states across the country to adopt the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA) into law.

The NGO made this known during the presentation of a report in Lagos on Thursday.

The report is based on results from a survey of the second quarter of 2018 (Q2 2018), with a total of 65 court rooms observed in the three states during the review period.

In its findings, PWAN noted that implementation of the various sections of the Act was a challenge especially as it had to do with criminal justice actors.

In Lagos for instance, 62 percent of these actors including police investigators, prosecutors, court judges and magistrates, either had not read the ACJA at all or had read only a portion of it.

Apart from capacity building and knowledge of the law, some other factors considered in the survey included pre-trial and trial requirements, oversight powers of the ministry of justice, police and judiciary, and management of witness expenses.

Commenting on the report Henry Anoliefo, one of the programme officers of PWAN, said there was need for all states in the country to enact the ACJA as a law using Lagos, Ondo and the federal capital territory as an example.

He said one of the major revelations of the report is the inter-agency coordination and collaboration on administration of criminal justice, which should be reviewed promptly.

“Basically, we started looking at states that have already enacted the ACJL and is fully operational, so we decided to target them to see the level of implementation and appreciation for the ACJL by the courts,” he said.

“The ACJA, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act has already been enacted, every state is supposed to enact their own and you can’t force every state to do that. You can only appeal to them and carry out advocacy for them to do that which many states have done. There are about 14 states that have done that and we are hoping that other states will take a cue and… for the good administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, should enact theirs.

“We are hoping that people will begin to see reasons and all the actors will come together and do their own part according to the law and before you know it, the rate of implementation will increase with time.”

The PWAN is part of the Enhancing Transparency and Accountability in the Judicial Sector project, a three- year project done with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

The goal of the project is to enhance integrity in the Nigerian judicial system, promote the implementation of the ACJA/L, enhance citizen participation in judicial processes and improve access to information on judicial proceedings in the sector.

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