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Group tasks stakeholders on criminal justice law

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To strengthen the criminal justice system in the country, an advocacy group, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC), in collaboration with Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), has called for effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL).

RoLAC, which made the call at its quarterly meeting held to present findings on court monitoring, said there were more to do on the implementation of the law, even as it noted that plea bargain would facilitate quick dispensation of justice, especially in Lagos State.

Programme Manager for RoLAC, Hadiza Usman, who said the group was not monitoring only Lagos State but also Ondo State and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), added that its findings revealed low level of awareness of the ACJL.

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RoLAC said though it was found that police prosecute the highest number of criminal cases in Lagos, they need to be periodically trained on implementation of the law.

The group acknowledged improvement in implementation of the current judicial system in terms of speedy trial of suits, noting that cases are being assigned on time in accordance with the law. It found that Nigeria Police Force has developed standard operating procedures to guide its officers in the handling of suspects in custody as well as recording statement of a suspect.

According to the group, the police have improved their capacity to implement provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 but transfer of officers impedes their efforts.

Programme Officer for RoLAC, Henry Anoliefo, called for training within the police force without waiting for external organ, promising support by RoLAC.

“They can set up training on regular basis such that even when an officer is transferred out, those remaining will be able to train the incoming ones. We urge agencies to show good commitment to implementing the law. Some agencies are not making any effort,” he said.

Another participant at the meeting, Mrs. Ajibola Ijimakinwa, admonished lawyers to embrace plea bargaining, saying it is a way out for inmates.

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