CISLAC canvasses more proactive justice system in combating crimes
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has called on the judiciary to be more proactive in handling criminal charges.
The Centre made the call at a one-day Nigeria Criminal Justice (Crimjust) Project Review Meeting held penultimate week in Keffi, Nasarawa State.
The Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, who was represented at the meeting by Adesina Oke, emphasized that the judiciary has a crucial role to play in ensuring a crime-free society.
Musa therefore charged judicial officers to look dispassionately on matters brought before them and expedite actions.
While the Centre would want offenders to be punished, Musa however noted that a delay of justice equally amounts to a denial of justice.
“Someone can even escape justice as a result of loss or destruction of evidence due to prolonged justice system. So, we call on the judiciary to always expedite actions on criminal cases lying before it”, he said.
Admitting that some counsel seek adjournments to delay trail, Musa urged the court to engage the Administration of Criminal Just Act (ACJA) in dealing with such situations.
“With the ACJA, the judiciary has been given a leverage to ensure there is quick dispensation of justice. Justice is not limited to conviction of an accused person but also about the time spent on trial.
“Someone who is remanded in custody for so long before justice is done might be innocent and in that circumstance, you cannot be talking about justice.
“The person will come out of detention frustrated and with the belief that injustice has been done to him.
“So, we need a proactive judiciary. Although they have their challenges, they are not justification for delayed justice.”
The meeting brought together stakeholders in the country criminal justice system including the Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Civil Society Groups as well as the representatives of the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice.
The Executive Director also expressed the urgent need to strengthen Nigeria’s criminal justice system to tackle drug and organized crime in Nigeria.
“These organized crimes include drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling, trafficking of firearms, trafficking of stolen property, armed robbery, counterfeiting, gambling, money laundering, trafficking in wildlife, extortion and racketeering, fraud and cybercrime.”
Musa decried the fact that Nigeria stands at the centre of a number of transnational crimes that have been a constant challenge to the authorities in Nigeria and abroad.
“Geographically, West Africa is conveniently situated for drug and illegal weapons’ trade between South America and Europe. Porous borders and the free flow of arms into and out of Nigeria has contributed both to the increase in the number of violent conflicts in the country and also to their intensity.
“It is in a bid to surmount this challenge that the Criminal Justice (CRIMJUST) Project was launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), INTERPOL and Transparency International.
“CISLAC is an implementing partner of this project. Like every positive approach to solving a problem, the aim of the institutional mapping was to discover the strengths and weaknesses of three target institutions, including the judiciary, the Police and NDLEA.