On behalf of CLEEN Foundation Board Members, staff and the MacArthur Foundation we are extremely delighted to welcome all of you to this momentous event. We want to use this opportunity to thank our Ekiti state partners who have put in immense efforts to ensure the success of this project and today’s event. CLEEN Foundation has worked for justice sector reform for over 20 years since her establishment in 1998. We are a non-governmental organization with the mission of promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programmes and publications, in partnership with government, civil society and private sectors. It is on the same strength and belief that we are seated today with important stakeholders who share a common interest for effective justice delivery and the fight against corruption.
The idea of the resource centre was conceived under the project centred on “Promoting Accountability and Transparency in the Administration of Criminal Justice System in Nigeria”. The project is targeted at the digitization of court proceedings/judgments in Nigeria with a view to promoting accountability and transparency in the fight against corruption. The project principally seeks to monitor cases of corruption in relation to ACJA 2015 through a web-based open-source application called Uwazi https://cleen.uwazi.io/en/ with functionality that includes search, filter, tracking of changes on documents, cross reference and ability to view or download court rulings within the reach of the public. We are deeply grateful for the unalloyed support from MacArthur Foundation in funding this project. We are grateful to Huridocs, a German based organisation and project partner for their technical support to CLEEN in the set up of Uwazi doc web platform. We are also grateful to Ekiti FIDA branch for their partnership in the set up of Ekiti legal resource centre. The project is also targeted at the setting up of legal resource centres across eight states of the country to boost legal research on corruption and financial crime cases. Oyo state and the F.C.T legal resource centres have been set up and is currently running. Four other centres will be set up in October, 2019.
The centre which presents a human capacity development and empowerment hub for critical stakeholders, such as: Lawyers, Researchers, Civil Society Organizations, the media, the judiciary, law students, government agencies and experts in the field of justice shall be freely accessed at no cost. For most citizens concerned and passionate about effective justice service, the centre presents a good opportunity to acquire knowledge on the documentation and tracking of corruption cases vis a` vis the ACJA, 2015 through a digitized system, for others it is the opportunity to learn more about the implementation of the administration of the criminal justice in Nigeria in relation to the fight against corruption. The centre promises to facilitate easy access to court cases/judgements and to promote accountability and transparency in the implementation of the administration of the criminal justice system in Nigeria.
It is important to note that the concept of digitization of court cases is not new. It is being practised in Nigeria and other countries, for instance, electronic legal documentation has been firmly established and stable in Austria since 1999 and in the United States, digitized court proceedings and electronic online case files have been the standard in their federal courts for more than a decade.
If we must have an efficient criminal justice system as the ACJA and ACJLs attempt to entrench within our polity, one that is poised to ensure the diligent prosecution of all cases of corruption, the critical mass of men and women on the criminal justice chain all along the line- from top to bottom must be men who are manifestly willing to birth the dreams encapsulated in the innovative aspects of the ACJA, 2015 and ACJLs of the states. To achieve this dream, the tool of technology must be employed to monitor the successes as well as the gaps in the implementation of the laws.
Distinguished guests, I thank you all once again for registering your attendance at this auspicious event. On behalf of the CLEEN Foundation, I give our warmest welcome once again and commend all of you for your hard work and outstanding contributions to the implementation of the ACJA, 2015.
Thank you and God bless you all
Benson Olugbuo. PhD