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 Act.
In pursuit of this mandate, CLEEN Foundation inaugurates Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) Lagos state working group on June 20th 2018. The working group meets on quarterly basis while CLEEN provides support to them.
At the event, CLEEN trained and built stakeholders capacity on ACJA and taught them what the project seeks to achieve. Success and challenges facing ACJA implementation in Lagos state was also a dominant discourse.
Participants at the meeting, shared experience and gained knowledge about how to monitor the court process on the ACJA implementation. The monitoring entails collection of data on the ACJA compliance in Lagos state.
The data collection is done using a tool developed for the purpose of monitoring corruption related proceedings within the ACJA framework compliance.
Mrs. Blessing Abiri, the Programme Manager, CLEEN Foundation, Lagos office, at the event disclosed that the ACJA is an amendment of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) into a single legislation. The legislation is applicable to all federal courts in Nigeria and that of Federal Capital Territory Abuja she noted.
The project also targets at reducing corruption, promoting accountability and transparency in the Administration of Criminal Justice System in Nigeria. Besides the accountability in the ACJA, the project also seeks to depopulate prisons and ensure that all law enforcement agents respect the fundamental rights of citizens. And, at the moment, 12 States in Nigerian have domesticated the legislation.
Mr. Gabriel Akinremi, Senior Information Technology Officer, CLEEN Foundation trained participants on Uwazidoc platform, the platform is a web and mobile tool used to track and monitor court cases. It also assists in data collection.
Mr. Igbanoi, a Barrister and a participant at the event narrated how some security agencies find it difficult to abide by the ACJA provisions. For instance, Section 9 of the ACJL of Lagos provides that a video coverage should be taken when obtaining a witness statement. So far, no police station in Lagos State has done that despite video cameras provided by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) in various police stations.
Blessing Abiri, pointed out some of the challenges facing criminal justice system in Lagos. For instance, the Monitoring Committee under the ACJL Lagos, which ought to assist in addressing the lack of coordination between the criminal justice actors particularly the police and office of the Director of Public Prosecution is ineffective. The required funding for the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee is inadequate and that has consequence on the justice system she added.
She pointed out how some states are changing key provisions of the ACJA in their own domesticated version and that makes it contrary to the intent and purpose of the ACJA 2015.
Gabriel Akinremi, CLEEN Foundation