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Nigeria Justice System and the need for right policies

Judiciary workers begin str - Nigeria Justice System and the need for right policies
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VIVIAN OKEJEME writes on the National Policy on Justice 2017, adopted to coordinate all actors in the Justice Sector
Over the years, the justice system has been plagued with lack of challenges such as poor accountability, inadequate skilled man power, delays in justice adjudication, and poor work ethics to mention but a few. To this end, a lot of measures have been taken by stakeholders to ensure smooth administration of the third arm of government.
In the last few years, the arm of government, in a bid to square up these setbacks, continually made efforts to improve on some policies that have turned the country’s judiciary around.

Need for national policy on justice
There is need to provide platforms to strengthen collaboration, coordination among the justice sector institutions for effective service delivery and promotion of rule of law.
Other sectors such as education, health, agriculture have put in place national policies and structures to provide broad legal framework for driving the sectors operation, however, there is no such policy in the justice sector to facilitate collaboration and coordination amongst justice institution.
This situation has left each institution in the justice sector to operate in isolation and play the blame game, rather than coming together to address the challenges confronting the justice system.

National Summit on Justice
The federal and state governments as well as other stakeholders in the justice sector across the country, in pursuant to Section 17(1) and (2) (a)-(e) of the 1999 Constitution, on equality, non-discrimination and freedom and justice, have moved to rectify the challenges of the ailing justice system.
Therefore, at the National Summit on Justice in Abuja on 8th – 10th August, 2017, stakeholders agreed and adopted a National Policy on Justice 2017, to collectively pursue its objectives and implement the strategies.
The policy of 2017 is seeking the collaboration of the states, ministry of justice, office of the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Police, Prisons and even the Department of State Security (DSS), as well as the Nigeria Bar Association and Civil Society working in the justice Sector, for the necessary synergy to enhance access to justice not only for the powerful and rich, but to the poor, weak and vulnerable in Nigeria.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the summit said, “The above goals albeit lofty, can only be achieved by having all key players in the justice system on board and actively participating to ensure that these lofty aims are achieved.”

The policy
The National Policy on Justice, 2017, a 73-page document with 17 themes, has a shared vision at the national level and a set of jointly agreed objectives that will direct and guide the day- to-day operation and further development of the nation’s justice system.
The policy came up with the following articulated objectives: To produce synergy and cooperation across the justice sector nationally and at both federal and state levels, promote independence and impartiality of the judiciary, strengthening the capacity of the justice sector and encourage holistic use of information communication technology and ensures fair and speedy dispensation of justice and effective enforcement of court decisions.
Others are, promotion of human rights and access to justice for all, especially the poor, weak and vulnerable, promote correctional and restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution as well as enhancing national security and facilitating social-economic growth.

Sensitization workshops across zones
Further to this, the federal government, through the ministry of justice, last week concluded the last leg of the national sensitization workshops on national policy on justice across the six-geo-political zones in the country.
The first port of call of the sensitization workshop was at the South-South Zone in Benin, Edo state, South West zone in Ibadan, Oyo state, South East Zone in Enugu, North Central in Kwara state and North East and North West zone in Kano state.
In his welcome address, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, acknowledged the leadership and unflinching commitment of is ministry to the reform.
Represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata, at the workshop, Malami explained that the policy would provide a proposal that draws the various reforms desirable in the justice sector to engender smooth, fair, just and transparent administration of justice in the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Justice, under his leadership, has continued to lead the process of galvanizing the justice sector to play its role in national development.
“It will also provide the needed professional guidance for all justice sector institutions in the discharge of their duties and the attainment of an effective and efficient administration of justice.
“The sensitization workshop would provide a forum for the policy to be critically examined through the various presentations to be made and inputs harvested into an implementation strategy plan to be develop for the implementation of the policy.
“He assured that participants’ contributions would in no doubt, enrich the plan and ensure its smooth implementation when finalized.”

Kano assures on implementation
In his statement, the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, through the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Ibrahim Mukhtar, assured the state’s readiness and commitment in the implementation of the policy.
According to him, without the policy, there would be no national development and justice sector, adding that the state is ready and willing to implement the policy in its entity as well as its improvement when the need arises.
He also informed that the policy will ensure a synergy in working for the development of the sector and not trading accusations and counter accusations on who is wrong or not.
On whether the policy is in consonance with the culture and tradition of the people of Kano state, the AGF said, “it is completely in line with the customs, tradition and laws guiding the state.
“The central goal of the policy is to have a synergy between the stakeholders so they will be working based on the understanding, and not what is happening now that every sector is trying to exempt itself from responsibility.”
On his part, Professor Tawfiq Ladan, one of the facilitators at the sensitization workshop, explained that the workshop is aimed at bringing together various stakeholders to understand the National Policy on Justice 2017 as the first ever comprehensive justice policy.
“The policy has already articulated that there is a problem in the sector. We are moving forward beyond the blame game theory where the police are blaming the prison, the DSS blaming the DPP or the Judiciary.
“Every sector operation must understand that the failure of one sector is the failure of all. So as the 2019 is approaching, the policy tends towards putting a stop to all kinds of manipulation from every angle, which will be achieved by bringing the sector operators in one place and make them understand the impact of such manipulations on the entire justice sector.”

Monitoring and evaluation
It is stipulated that within the first six months of adoption of the policy, each implementing institution, the federal and state governments alongside other coordination bodies, are expected to prepare an implementation plan action relating to the interventions for which they are responsible.
The policy which will be fully reviewed after five years from the date of adoption, will be monitored periodically through the Annual National Summit on Justice every year.
The National Policy on Justice 2017 which has joined other relevant policies in the justice sector like the National Judicial Policy, National Judiciary Information Technology Policy, National Policy on Prosecution and the National Security Policy, is expected to rectify the nation’s embattled judiciary.

 


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