Justice Ministry Moves to Stop Rights Abuses in Detention Facilities

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FIFTH FROM THE LEFT, HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR OF AKWA- IBOM STATE, EMMANUEL, GABRIEL UDOM, HIS LEFT, SOLICITOR GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION/PERMANENT SECRETARY, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, DAYO APATA ESQ, AND OTHER DIGNITARIES, AT THE NATIONAL WORKSHOP ON IMPLEMENTATION OF ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT, HELD FROM 20TH AND 21ST OF JUNE, 2019 AT LE MERIDIEN HOTELS, UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE.

In a bid to safeguard the rights of persons in custody and police detention facilities in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee (FJSRCC) have organized a National Workshop aimed at providing templates and protocols for generating and submitting information on arrested and detained suspects.

The on-going 2-day workshop which was declared open in Uyo on Thursday, 20th June, 2019 by Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State, basically focused on the implementation of sections 29, 33 and 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Addressing participants from the six states of South-South geo-political region, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata, Esq. said the workshop was aimed at training participants on the modalities and framework for a coordinated implementation of Sections 29, 33 and 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in the country.

“The implementation of these provisions no doubt, is aimed at addressing the human rights abuses and maltreatment of suspects at police stations and detention facilities of other security agencies in violation of the fundamental rights of suspects as enshrine in the 1999 Constitution as amended and other International human rights protocols.

“The violation of these rights by security agencies has gross negative effect on public perceptions and confidence in the security agencies and indeed, the Criminal Justice System” the Permanent Secretary reiterated.

According to Mr. Dayo Apata, Esq., the workshop attested to the determination of the Justice Ministry through the Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee to continue to lead the efforts towards reforming criminal Justice administration and promotion of the rule of law.

He said, “Section 29(1) of the Act provides a mechanism for interface between the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation as well as the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General of the State.

“The Section requires the Inspector General of Police to remit quarterly to the Attorney General of the Federation a record of all arrest made with or without warrant in relation to federal offences within Nigeria while Section 29(2) requires the Commissioner of Police of a State or head of agency authorized to make arrest to remit quarterly to the Attorney General of the State records of arrest with respect to state offences.

He continued, “Section 33 of the Act requires an Officer in charge of a police station or an officer in charge of an agency authorized to make arrest to on the last working day of every month report to the Magistrate, the cases of all suspects arrested without warrant within the limits of their respective stations or agency whether the suspects have been admitted to bail or not.

“Section 34 of the Act, requires a Chief Magistrate or a Magistrate designated by the Chief Judge of the State to conduct an inspection of police stations or other places of detention within his territorial jurisdiction other than the prison.

“The above provision also requires the Chief Magistrate to submit the report from the officer in charge of a police station to the Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee who is expected to analyze the reports and advice the Attorney General accordingly” Apata stated.

He however pointed out that the Act did not provide the templates or protocols for generating and submitting such reports.

“It would appear the Legislature left the articulation of these templates and protocols to the implementers of the Act.

“It is in order to fill the void created by the absence of precedents that the Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee led other stakeholders to develop the required templates that was subsequently validated and adopted for national implementation”.

Apata further explained that the templates and protocols set out agreed principles and guidelines for robust information gathering, sharing and management as well as framework for resolving cross institutional problems.

He therefore urged participants to pass the knowledge gained by stepping down training, so that their colleagues in their respective magisterial division and commands can key to it.

His Excellency the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel in his opening remark stated that ‘’the problem we are having in Nigeria is visitation, we have good laws and we know everything. Every single Nigerian you come across will tell you he knows his right and wrong but how to do it. Democracy can never corrupt anywhere in the world outside the rule of law’’.

The Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Aniekan Bassey in his remark promised of the state legislative relationship with the Judiciary. He said “ I am here on behalf of the members of State House of Assembly to pledge that we shall have a better and more rewarding relationship’’.

Ogundoro Modupe

Deputy Director