The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubarkar Malami, (SAN), has said that there is tremendous improvement in the application of rule of law in relation to the passage of Criminal Justice Act 2015, adding that defence and prosecuting counsels are no longer given the latitude to prosecute cases at their own time.
He is of the view that the pending clog in the wheel of justice delivery in Nigeria which is the ‘’stay of Execution order “which can only be removed through the process of constitutional amendment would give the final ease of life in the justice delivery system.
Malami made this known during an NTA live broadcast, ‘Good Morning Nigeria’’ today 7th June, 2018 in Abuja.
The Minister further stated that given the scenario as far as justice dispensation is concerned, it is encouraging on the background that necessary amendment, improvement and inputs are fine-tuned on the daily basis to allow for speedy access to justice.
Reacting to issue of diligent execution of cases, the Minister said that the situation on ground is quite different from what was obtainable before as regards Day by Day proceedings where by cases are adjourned to 3 ,4 or 5 months .He said, “this is absurd and amounts to stagnation of cases against the will and spirit of the new Criminal Justice Act ,2015”.
On effort towards ensuring safety and protection of witnesses’ presence in court, Malami assured that Executive bill to that effect is pending at the National Assembly, believing that whenever it is passed, the President will assent to the bill without delay.
As regards to criminal prosecution, ‘’we equally have a free legal assistance that has to do with a kind of establishing international collaboration as relates to criminal prosecution cases by way of sharing intelligence amongst others, of which the bill is pending in the National Assembly. In terms of International collaboration, in terms of securing witnesses, we have done greatly well by presenting the necessary things that were not there before, for the purpose of ensuring that cases were expeditiously determined in the presence of the witness’’, Malami explained .
Speaking at the programme, the former Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mazi Afam Osigwe, aligned with the HAGF that bottlenecks in the justice delivery system are gradually being removed. He maintained that compliance to rule of law should be holistic taken into cognisance other indices of lawlessness in the polity including Executive recklessness.
Also reacting to Kazeem’s disposition, Osigwe was of the view that increase in the number of judges to handle the rising number of cases was not the issue but attending to the basis by not allowing all cases to get to the court or go beyond their jurisdiction. “This is what must be done to have a brighter future for the judicial process”, he suggested.
Mr. Kazeem Adekunle Gbadamosi , former NBA Chairman, Ibadan branch, contributing from NTA Ibadan centre noted that before the passage of the administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 cases were being handled expeditiously but the delay being experienced now is due to increase in civil/criminal litigations, without commensurate increase in number of judges to handle these cases . He was of the view that laws can never be adequately dispensed without necessary and material resources.
He however agrees with Mazi Osigwe that it is unethical for a lawyer to file a frivolous case while advocating for computerization of cases to streamline proceedings and curtail filing of cases beyond jurisdiction.
He urged the HAGF to pursue the synchronization of cases to ensure consistency.
A renowned Legal Practitioner, Masu’d Alabelewe supported the view that only cases that are genuine should be taken to court for adjudication , urging counsels to sieve complains on the plane of truth before contemplating on filing cases in court so as to avoid delay in court proceedings .
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