With support from MacArthur Foundation, CLEEN Foundation is implementing the Project, “Promoting Accountability and Transparency in the Administration of Criminal Justice System in Nigeria in Lagos State“. One of the project activities is to monitor the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law in Lagos State. This working group was set up by CLEEN Foundation to achieve that purpose. The working group holds a bi-monthly meeting to deliberate on the effective implementation of Criminal Justice Law, and to explore strategies for collaborating with partners towards the attainment of the spirit and intent of the ACJL in Lagos State.
At the just concluded bi-monthly meeting which took place at the Leadspace Conference Hall, Ojodu-Berger, Lagos State, there was an in house capacity building on the Lagos State ACJL 2015. Samuel Akpologun who facilitated the discussion noted that:
- Despite the laudable provisions of the ACJL the ACJL is yet bedeviled by various challenges. These challenges exist mainly because stakeholders and key players In the Justice sector have not been adhering fully to the provisions of the Law.
- It was noted that there have been recent innovations that ordinarily should help to achieve the purposes of the ACJL. These include:
- The Practice Directions for the Administration Justice Law (which came into operation on 3rd June 2019 to address such issues as ineffective or incomplete investigations and delays in criminal trials, among other issues confronting criminal justice administration).
- The just assented Nigeria Correctional Service Act which seeks to reform and decongest the facilities hitherto known as the prisons. The innovations of the ACJL as regards punishment, sentencing and correction of offenders were evidently put into consideration in the provision.
- It was however noted that despite the laudable proactive legislation of ACJL and other recent developments, there are nagging issues facing the Justice sector and until they are addressed, some aspects of the provisions of the ACJL will remain as paper tigers. Such issues include inadequate facilities like courtrooms, custodial and Correctional centers, capable and well-trained personnel in the sectors tasked with the administration of Criminal Justice in the state
In view of the aforesaid, it is therefore recommended as follows:
- The government should invest seriously in the training and retraining of law enforcement agents and agencies (especially the rank and file) to properly and adequately leverage on the positive developments envisaged in the novel provisions of the above stated legal instruments
- The government should urgently make Provision of adequate facilities like more adequate and up to date correctional facilities, courtrooms etc
- There should be provisions for adequate funding of Stakeholders involved in the administration of the ACJL
- Minor and petty offenses should be decriminalized.
- The government should take relevant steps to ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of funds to relevant stakeholders like the Police Force etc.
The Working Group has resolved to work closely with relevant stakeholders in the Administration of Criminal Justice (like the Nigeria Police Force, the Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, etc) with a view to achieving the intents and purposes of the ACJL. The Group shall commence by paying courtesy visits to the heads of such stakeholders to deliberate on the best way to achieve the aforesaid purpose.