Governor Tambuwal

Sokoto Gov’t adopts ACJA reforms on Criminal Justice
The Sokoto state government has disclosed that it has adopted the implementation of Sections 29, 33 and 34 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA) initiated by the Federal Government as part of efforts to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.

The Executive Governor of Sokoto State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, made the disclosure at the National Sensitization Workshop on the Implementation of Sections 29, 33, 34 of the ACJA, 2015 for the North West Geo-Political Zone, organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with Sokoto State Government, on the 5th November, 2019 in Sokoto, capital city of Sokoto state.

The Governor, represented by the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Suleiman Usman revealed that the state has domesticated the Act with some modifications in order to capture some peculiarities.. “It is called Sokoto State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJL, 2019 signed into law on 28th May, 2019”, he said. He explained that the Sokoto ACJL has 514 sections and it is divided into 50 parts.

The Governor noted that the criminal justice system hitherto lost its capacity to respond to the wishes of the people to check the escalating waves of crime promptly hence, commended the Federal Government for given birth to ACJA in order to bring offenders to justice and care for the victims of crime.

He lauded some of the features of ACJA that emphasized on restorative justice as against retributive justice, speedy trial, ruling out stay of proceedings in criminal trial, mandatory of observance of adequate notice of arrest to the arrested including informing him of the reasons for arrest also granting an arrested persons access to legal practitioner of its choice before making endorsing or writing any statement or answering question put to him after arrest.

He explained that ACJA ensures free legal representation by the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria in deserving situations. It also prohibits unlawful arrest of the citizens on allegation that are purely civilian nature in lieu by the Police, EFCC, ICPC, NDLEA etc.

In his welcome address at the Workshop, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata SAN, reiterated Federal Government’s commitment towards reforming the Criminal justice administration and promotion of the rule of law to protect the right of citizens.

Mr. Dayo Apata, SAN who doubles as Chairman, Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee, (FJSRCC) said that the Act has provided a broad legal framework for a more effective cross-sector collaboration and oversight between and amongst agencies to ensure that violation of human rights by security agencies is reduced to the barest minimal.

He stated that the workshop attests to the determination of the Federal Ministry of Justice through the Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee in its quest to lead the efforts towards reforming the Criminal Justice Administration in the country as espoused by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.

Apata SAN said, “the violation of the human rights and ill treatment of suspects and security agencies has negatively affected public perception and confidence in the security agencies and the criminal justice system”.

 “following the validation and adoption of the reporting templates at the National Workshop held in 2018 in Abuja, by the Heads of various justice sectors institutions involved in criminal justice administration, it has become imperative to train those saddled with the responsibility of actual implementation of the Act”, he echoed.

He congratulated Sokoto State Government who had joined the league of states that already passed the ACJA into law. Thus, making the it the 27th state that has adopted the ACJA.

He also congratulated the state government for taking advantage of the workshop to inaugurate the Sokoto State Justice Sector Reform Team. He described it as a milestone in the State’s efforts to reform the justice system.

The Coordinating Secretary to the FJSRCC, Felix Ota-Okojie in an interview with journalists said that the most challenging aspect is getting the people to align with the statement of the law which is to promote human rights, rights of the suspect and access to justice. He disclosed that 19 states are at various stages of passage in the House of Assembly towards domestication of the Act. This, according to him showed the level of interest and commitment towards the implementation of the reform.

Modupe Ogundoro

DD (Press &Public Relations)