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Nigeria: Stakeholders Adopt a Draft Administration of Criminal Justice Amendment Bill

The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistant through the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, organised a National Stakeholders' Forum from October 24th to 26th, 2023, to evaluate the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of the various States in Nigeria.

Chaired by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, the forum aimed to enhance the criminal justice system's fairness, accountability, and efficiency.

Despite 16 years of the Administration of Criminal Justice (AJC) laws at federal and state levels, concerns persist regarding the efficacy of these laws, with trials still delayed and prison congestion unresolved.

Stakeholders at the forum reviewed the implementation of the laws, leading to the identification of strategic failures and proposals for improving the system. The forum yielded resolutions such as adopting a draft ACJ Bill 2023, addressing constitutional changes, strengthening implementation, mainstreaming anti-corruption principles, and upholding justice sector reform.

Seven thematic areas were identified for concrete action: Criminal Records Management, statement-taking rooms, Witness Protection, Judicial Support, and Oversight. The forum oriented newly appointed State Attorneys-General and leaders in the justice sector towards reform efforts. Participants expressed confidence that the forum's outcomes would advance justice sector reforms and foster an inclusive system benefiting all Nigerians.

Dignitaries, including the Chief Justice of the Federation, the Minister of Interior, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, the Country Head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Nigerian Bar Association President, the Inspector General of police and heads of justice agencies, attended the event, totalling 164 participants.

In conclusion, the National Stakeholders' Forum served as a platform for dialogue, evaluation, and strategic planning to address the persistent challenges within Nigeria's criminal justice system. The minister was encouraged by all stakeholders present to endorse the concessional recommendations. A technical committee was set up within the Ministry of Justice to ensure that the recommendations meet the minimum standards based on legal requirements. Through its flagship project, RoLAC, International IDEA will continue to follow up and support the Ministry.


About the authors

Murkthar Suleiman
Communications Officer
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