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The ACJL brought innovations to the criminal justice system- MacArthur Foundation

At the 5th bi-monthly meeting of the Anambra State ACJA/ACJL Working Group meeting of the CLEEN Foundation sponsored by MacArthur Foundation, Monitoring the Implementation of the ACJL; Citizens and Stakeholders role was discussed.
The Group stated that it is important to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the ACJL in Anambra State and a periodic meeting of the stakeholders of Justice to ensure that the applicability of the Law is achieved.
Different roles to be played by the citizens, stakeholders, and the Judiciary were also pointed out during the meeting thus:

“One of the biggest setbacks of the criminal justice system in Nigeria is the snail’s pace with which criminal justice is dispensed. The ACJL brought innovations to the criminal justice system and if implemented properly, will no doubt restore peoples’ confidence in the criminal justice system. Thus, the monitoring is very important, especially in the light of flagrant abuse by the enforcers of the law.

STAKEHOLDERS AND THEIR ROLES
There are various stakeholders involved in the efficient realization of the letters and spirits of the ACJL. They include the judiciary, consisting of the bench and the bar, the law enforcement agents, especially the police who are at the forefront of law enforcement in Nigeria, the society in general, especially the victim as well as the suspect/defendant.

CITIZENS AND THEIR ROLES
The citizen here implies everyone as a member of society. For effective implementation of these provisions of the ACJL, everyone as a member of the society has a role to play. Some of the roles the citizens can play are as follows:
Reporting reasonable and actual commission of crimes
Prevention of crimes by quick and prompt reporting of crimes
Assisting the police in crime preventions
Supporting the law enforcement by coming forward as willing witnesses
By being truthful and taking responsibility for ones’ crime

THE ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY
The Judiciary here includes the bar and the bench. It will take only an effective and proactive bench for there to effective implementation of the ACJL

*The magistrates should always make inquiries into P/E matters brought before them before issuing remand orders.
The bench should also shun every form of the bribe that blind their eyes from justice

*There is need for the bench to implement the provisions of Section 71 of the ACJL, that mandates officers in charge of police stations to report quarterly to magistrates of all persons arrested without warrant whether such persons have been admitted to bail or not. And the magistrate shall notify the CR of the HC of such report who shall forward same to the CJ for necessary action. The essence of this provision is to enable the bench monitor the arrest and detentions of suspects at police stations.

*The clerks of the courts should refrain from collecting bribes and kick backs for perfection of bails.
*Thanks state counsels have a duty to be neutral in the conduct of cases before the bench and
duty to defend the defendant with due diligence.

*The Bar should avoid using the police as instruments of vendetta

THE ROLE OF THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

*The prosecutors should act fairly and honestly and cease from bringing frivolous charges to court. A prosecuting counsel must see himself as a prosecutor and neither as a persecutor nor an investigator.

*The prosecutors should refrain from attempting to secure convictions at all cost.

*Arrest of suspects and interrogations should be done in accordance with global best practices. Fortunately, we have Anti Torture Act, yet the provisions of the law are observed more in breaches than obedience by the law enforcement agents in the country.

*Arrested persons should be taken to court within a reasonable time
The constitutional presumption of innocence which is enshrined in favour of the suspect should be preserved.

*Duty of the prosecutors to call material witnesses and cease from undue delays they cause by calling many witnesses.

*Duty to carry out discreet and proper investigation of cases
and to make available the defendant’s proof of evidence.

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC) should be set up as provided in Ss. 469-476 of the ACJA. The functions of the committee as enumerated in S. 470(1) ACJA includes to ensure:

2. The relationship between the organs charged with the responsibility for all aspects of the administration of justice should be cordial and there exist maximum co-operation amongst the organs of the administration of justice in Nigeria;

3. Collate, analyze and publish information in relation to the administration of criminal justice sector in Nigeria;

4. Submit quarterly report to the Chief Justice of Nigeria to keep him abreast of developments towards improved criminal justice delivery and for necessary act; and
carry out such other activities as are necessary for the effective and efficient administration of criminal justice

5. The quarterly report by officers in charge of police stations should be reduced to weekly or even the position of the ACJA should be adopted by Anambra to reduce flagrant abuse of police powers.

6. There should be established Central Criminal Records Registry for the courts in the state to monitor criminal cases that go on in the state.

7. The practice of investigation before arrest should be provided in the ACJL

8. There is need for the bench to regularly visit police stations to monitor the implementation of the ACJL there.

9. The Police Act should be reviewed to bring it in line with best practices of the ACJA/ACJL.

10. There should be a synergy between the Police and the ACJMC Secretariat.”

The Working Group thanks immensly Nkemjika Anthony Onyewuchi Esq. who is the resource person for the meeting.

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CLEEN Foundation holds the 6th national working group meeting on Promoting Accountability and Transparency in the Administration of Criminal Justice

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