The Secretary of the Administration of Criminal Justice Acts (ACJA) Sulayman Kuku-Dawodu has raised alarm that the absence of witness is a major lacuna in the country’s criminal justice system.
Dawodu disclosed this in Abuja Tuesday at the FCT ACJA Bi-monthly meeting organized by African Network for Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in collaboration with CLEEN foundation and MacArthur foundation.
According to him, there is the need for suppprt by stakeholders and Civil Society groups to established the witness support service scheme.
He also observed that witnesses who are also available are either not been guided in the cause of investigation or not been funded to travel for court proceedings .
He said some of them are obviously opened up to abuse from the defense side while some are been corrupt by giving them incentives so that they don’t appear in court.
Dawodu said though, a bill has been passed from the 8th to 9th Assmebly which deals with the witness support scheme of the criminal justice scheme.
“Most prosecutors even pay these witnesses to come to court because they know the overall effect is on their cases.
“Investigators even within the police often pay witness and we are emphasizing it and we should all collaborate together to enhance a robust formidable service scheme ,” he said.
Also, the Data collector for CLEEN foundation, Chukwuma Ejerenwa revealed that the judiciary has made an improvement in corruption cases stating that out of 354 corruption cases in 2018, 312 cases have been completed while 20 cases are been substituting while 20 cases are pending.
He said in June this year, they observed 6 related matters, 4 ongoing while 2 was adjourned for unknown cases.
On part of its challenges, Chukwuma also expressed concern on lack of good interpreter in criminal matters adding that the witnesses don’t usually understand English.
He also raised concern that adjournment shouldn’t be more than 2 weeks but it is usually takes one month or more which slows court processes.
He called for the continuous implementation of the ACJA among the judiciary adding that there is the need for accelerated hearing so that there will be a need for letigation .