The Nigeria Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 was a repeal of Criminal Procedure Code applicable to the Northern Nigeria and Criminal Procedure Act applicable to the Southern Nigeria.
Good as the legislation appears, it becomes fundamental to monitor its implementation otherwise the purpose for the enactment will be defeated. It is therefore within this context that CLEEN Foundation in its work to promote accountability and justice in Nigeria received funding support from MacArthur Foundation to monitor the Nigeria’s Administration of the Criminal Justice system.
In pursuit of this mandate, CLEEN in collaboration with civil society organizations and individuals working on issues of criminal justice, put in place a Civil Society Observatory Group on the implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria. The group has twelve members selected from respective CSOs in different states and professionals from the federal level working on the criminal justice issues.
The group mandate is to drive advocacy on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) effective implementation. And, they do this through monitoring progressive implementation both at the state and federal levels. The Act provides for a committee which monitors the ACJA implementation, and the group set up by CLEEN reports its finding to the committee.
The CSOs Observatory group on 22nd February, 2018 held its meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. At the meeting, the group met with the Nigeria Police and Prisons Service at Itam and Abak Police Stations, Akwa Ibom State.
At the meeting, the police and prison officials shared good practices they have adopted for community policing, the approach encourages, transparency, accountability with community engagement at the centre. The Observatory group encouraged the officials to study and have a good knowledge of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, in order to strengthen their work.
The Observatory group in a press release disclosed its findings and made some recommendations which are shown below.
• Nigerian government needs to ensure that the infrastructure, and capacity required by the relevant criminal justice agencies be put in place for the ACJA, to work effectively.
• Good number of senior security agents are willing and determined to provide professional leadership to ensure other officers discharge their duties professionally.
• The Nigerian government must encourage police officers by addressing the funding and capacity gap currently impeding Police effectiveness and professionalism.
• Nigeria government needs to address overcrowded cells in the Ikot-Ekpene Prison and the huge number of 658 Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs) in the 400-capacity Prison which currently holds a total of 772 inmates.
• Federal and State Governments in partnership with NGOs need to properly equip and utilize the workshops and educational facility in the Ikot-Ekpene Prison to aid the reformation of the inmates.
• While the Observatory Group commends the efforts of the Akwa Ibom State Government for the domestication of the ACJA, 2015, the State Government is urged to ensure that the law is properly implemented.
• We appeal to other states to implement the ACJA, 2015.
Blessing Abiri, CLEEN Foundation