Lagos Chief Justice launches sentencing guidelines
To ensure uniformity in sentencing, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke has launched new sentencing guidelines.
The guidelines would serve as practice direction for magistrates and high court judges as part of justice sector reform.
The sentencing guideline was intended to ensure uniformity in sentence and fines imposed for certain offences by magistrates in particular and forestall prison congestion.
While addressing the inaugural meeting of Justice Sector Reform Committee, the chief judge pointed out that the vision of the Lagos State Judiciary under the present administration is to make speedy dispensation of Justice a hallmark of the judiciary and to improve on its reputation as a pace setter.
According to her, this can only be achieved through inter agency collaboration and cooperation of stakeholders.
She said that a committee has also been set up to come up with practice direction for the use of the Administration of Criminal Law of Lagos State for the purpose of making the law more explicit for judges, magistrates and prosecutors.
“The committee, aside from interventions in the guideline, will evaluate initiatives such as adopting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in criminal trials, increase use of plea bargain to drastically reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial, front loading of evidence and restorative justice, the CJ stated.
She stressed the importance of an effective criminal justice system to the smooth running of the society, adding that it is fundamental to the maintenance of law and order.
“Any society with a sound criminal justice system enjoys rapid economic growth. Going forward, the Lagos state government is working towards building a citizen-centric criminal justice system for the purpose of ensuring efficient and effective justice delivery,” she said.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem said the essence of the inter-agency meeting is to ensure that they discuss periodically the challenges facing the criminal justice system and find practical solutions with a view of implementing same.
He posited that judges in the criminal division, magistracy, the Police, Prisons, Ministry of Justice among others would participate in the discussion at the subcommittee level.