Stakeholders seek review of administration of criminal justice law

 Stakeholders in the justice sector have identified some grey areas in the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) and called for a review of the legislation to make its implementation more effective.

They spoke during a one-day workshop on the review and implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Bayelsa State, 2019, held in Yenagoa on Thursday.

Among participants to the workshop, which was supported by the MacArthur Foundation, were legal practitioners and representatives of the judiciary, the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the International Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA), among others.

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Speaking, the Chief Judge of Bayelsa, Justice Kate Abiri, said the ACJL which came into force in 2019 was aimed at promoting efficient management of criminal institutions and enhancing quick dispensation of justice.

Abiri, however, pointed out that there were some grey areas in the law that needed to be improved upon such as a provision that should enable Magistrates to go to the police stations to grant bail to suspects detained beyond the time stipulated by law.

“There are areas that make it impossible for the purpose and vision of the ACJL to be fully achieved which include a timeline in which criminal trials must be commenced and concluded while at the same time respecting the rights of not just the victims but the suspects too.

Quoting from the words of the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, the Chief Judge said; “It is an injustice that the ordering of society is centered”.

Also speaking, the Federal Executive Secretary of ACJ Monitoring Committee, Mr Sulayman Dawodu, said the workshop was organised to strengthen the effective implementation of the ACJL in Bayelsa.

He mentioned places like Lagos, Rivers, Nasarawa, and other states where the law was quite effective.

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“We are happy to confirm that Bayelsa is one of the states identified for implementing the MacArthur Foundation support project of strengthening the ACJL/JSRT at the state level.

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“We are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for this opportunity and filling the vacuum created by our respective governments that have ignored or relegated the development of the criminal justice system to the background.

“This has led to the current state of insecurity, corruption in the land, perennial congestion of our detention and correctional facilities and courts,” he said.

Dawodu, urged the state to re-establish a functional Administration of Criminal Justice monitoring committee.

Also speaking, the Bayelsa Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo, SAN, described the workshop as timely.

He said that it would provide an opportunity for stakeholders to review the lacuna militating against the effective implementation of the ACJL in the state.

In his contribution, the Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa Command, Mr Ben Okolo said the police will work with all stakeholders for the full implementation of the criminal law.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Yenagoa branch, Barr. Ukunbiriowei Saiyo, stated that the importance of the workshop could not be overstressed, adding that some of the lacunae in the ACJL should be amended.

“We believe that with this training, we will be able to make some necessary amendments to ensure that the justice sector, especially as it has to do with suspects, is properly handled,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that it was agreed at the end of the workshop, an ACJL monitoring and implementation committee would be re-established in the state on March 15, 2022. (NAN)

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