Few Nigerians will forget the impact of the #EndSARS protests that took place in October 2020, following the reported extrajudicial killing of an unarmed man in Delta State. The incident highlighted the need for responsive justice institutions that investigate complaints by the public in a transparent manner and hold officials accountable.
On 14 May 2021, the Edo State Judiciary adopted the first Complaints Handling Policy for court users. The policy was developed to ensure that any shortcomings in conduct and service delivery in the judiciary are addressed in a timely manner. It details the steps court users can take to make complaints and the actions expected of officials. A central record of complaints is established to help identify recurring problems and tackle them appropriately.
The policy was developed by the Edo State Justice Sector Reform Team - a cross-sector committee advocating for justice sector reforms - with support from the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme. It was also reviewed by the Edo State Administration of Criminal Justice Committee, which is mandated by law to oversee the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law. The work draws on lessons from similar policies supported by ROLAC in other states.
The initiative aims to strengthen public confidence in the courts and the administration of justice, and ensure that judicial officers and court employees are protected from unwarranted and unfair accusations. The policy will be pasted on the walls of all court locations in Edo state.
“An effective complaint handling procedure creates public confidence and reduces the need for people to resort to self-help, which can lead to violence."
Chief Judge of Edo State, Hon. Justice Edigin