Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Justice Ishaq Bello, have called on states to adopt the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
They both spoke in Abuja at a two-day judicial colloquium on Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 organised by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.
Onnoghen, represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, said it would make for an efficient criminal justice system if all states adopted the law.
The ACJ Act, states in its section 1 that the purpose of the law is to promote “efficient management of criminal justice institutions”, ensure “speedy dispensation of justice” as well as for “protection of society from crime and protection of the rights and interests of the suspects, the defendant, and the victim.”
The acting CJN, said: “From the above objectives, it is imperative that the Act be domesticated at the state level.
“One beautiful features of the ACJ Act is the provision of a monitoring committee to ensure that the provisions of the Act are effectively complied with by all stakeholders of the criminal justice system – judges, prison staff, police officers, social workers, the victims and defendants,” Onnoghen added.
The Chief Judge of the FCT also urged the participants at the event including judges and various Directors of Public Prosecutions from various states to adopt the provisions and modify them to suit their local environment in order to ensure “uniformity of the criminal justice system.”
Justice Bello said: “It has an added advantage of making prosecution easy. May be you are a police, a prosecutor in various states from Ibadan to Ondo or Kaduna, you find out that substantially, the criminal justice system is the same.
“It makes it easy for the prosecution and the courts either for the magistrates or the judges.”
He also called on stakeholders including magistrates and judges to imbibe the spirit of the ACJA.
The President of CSLS, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), said since the ACJA was signed into law in May 2015 and its validation by the Supreme Court in 2016, “the law has been enjoying rapid replication or domestication across the country.”
He said in addition to Lagos State which was the first state to enact the Administration of Criminal Justice Law in 2007 and again in 2011 when it passed the revised edition of the law, at least seven other states (including the FCT) had domesticated it.
He said: “At the last count, not less than seven states have enacted the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
A Deputy Director at MacArthur Foundation, one of the development partners, Mr. Dayo Olaide, said called for sustained efforts to ensure the full implementation of the new law.
“Having a law is not an end on itself but to get it implemented,” he said.