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‘Corruption, absence of witnesses stalling criminal justice system’

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[FILES Criminal justice system

The Secretary of the Administration of Criminal Justice Acts (ACJA), Sulayman Kuku-Dawodu, has expressed concern that lack of witness support services has stalled the administration of criminal justice system in the country.

Dawodu disclosed this in Abuja during the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)-ACJA bi-monthly meeting organised by African Network for Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in collaboration with CLEEN Foundation and MacArthur Foundation.

He lamented that even when witnesses are available, they are not well guided or funded to travel for court proceedings, adding that investigators even within the police often pay witness.

He said some of them are obviously opened up to abuse from the defence side as they can be given incentives so that they don’t appear in court.

He stressed the need for collaborative efforts to enhance a robust formidable witness-support service.

Also, the Data Collector for CLEEN Foundation, Chukwuma Ejerenwa, said that the judiciary had made an improvement in corruption cases, stating that out of 354 corruption cases in 2018, 312 had been completed, 20 being substituted and 20 pending.

He said in June this year, they observed six related-matters; four ongoing while two were adjourned for unknown cases.

Ejerenwa, who expressed concern about the lack of good interpreter in criminal matters, and that the witnesses don’t usually understand English, also raised concern that adjournment should not be more than two weeks but usually takes one month or more, which slows down court processes.

He, therefore, called for the continuous implementation of the ACJA among the judiciary, adding that there is the need for accelerated hearing so that there will be a need for litigation.

The Programme Officer for Environment and Climate for Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Eitokpah Henri-Paul, said the essence of the meeting was to review the implementation of the ACJA, which looks at the challenges as a progress in the processes of adopting the processes of Act 2 of the country’s criminal justice system especially as it relates to corruption cases.

He said the meeting also serves as a platform for key stakeholders to come and share their experiences as it relates to criminal justice and corruption-related cases in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).


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