Awareness and Application of “Administration of Criminal Justice” (ACJ) Legislation in RoLAC States

Three RoLAC states have passed legislation to strengthen the administration of criminal justice (ACJ) over the past ten years. Lagos passed the first law in 2007 and has since made amendments including in 2015. Anambra State passed its ACJ law in 2010 and FCT passed the ACJ Act in 2015. 

However, all three places have encountered significant difficulties in ensuring the legislation is applied effectively across the criminal justice sector. RoLAC is working in all three states with criminal justice actors from across the spectrum to raise awareness of the legislation and work towards ensuring it is applied in all cases.

Understanding current levels of awareness and application was an important first step for the programme, to understand key areas of both high and low levels of awareness and application and to set a baseline against which progress can be measured.

The programme commissioned surveys in all three states to gather information about the knowledge and application of the legislation from across the sector. The survey was targeted at a selection of investigators, prosecutors, defence lawyers, judicial officers and prison officers from all the locations.

Lagos State respondents showed the highest levels of awareness and application. FCT exhibited the lowest levels in both categories, not unexpectedly as ACJ legislation was passed in FCT most recently.

Levels of awareness and application were highest amongst judicial officers (judges and magistrates), whilst prison officers showed the lowest levels.

The programme will engage with all the groups in all three locations over the coming years, with the aim of taking average awareness and application over 55%

Justice Sector Reform Coordination

Abia and Adamawa states have now joined the league of states that have established Justice Sector Reform Teams (JSRT) as vehicle for driving criminal justice reform in their states. This brings the total number of existing JSRTs to 26. The Abia State Justice Sector Reform Team (ABJSRT) was inaugurated on Monday 29 January 2018 in Umuahia, while the Adamawa JSRT was formally launched on 10 April 2018 in Yola.

A state JRTs is made up of representatives of all the key justice institutions in the state including federal institutions operating in the state

The RoLAC programme also arranged and facilitated workshops at federal level in Abuja and in four states of Adamawa, Anambra, Kano and Lagos, bringing together Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee (FJSRCC) and the Justice Sector Reform Team (JSRT) to agree action plan for improvements within justice sector.

These five workshops took place between Feb to May, attended by 145 key stakeholders who agreed 84 concrete and specific activities that they will be implementing over the next year.

'This platform is therefore another opportunity to reflect on the activities of the committee as it relates to our respective institutions and find practical solutions to the challenges facing our criminal justice system.'

Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke, Chief Judge Lagos State, while declaring open the action-planning retreat of the Lagos State Criminal Justice Reform Committee, May 17, 2018

The workshops provided opportunities for relevant stakeholders in the justice sector to collectively identify challenges facing the sector in their state and develop activities and strategies to resolve them.

A Network Conference of Justice Sector Reform Teams bringing together 103 delegates from 32 states of the Federation including the newly established teams of Adamawa and Abia, was then held in Calabar, Cross River State from May 10 – 12, 2018. This provided an opportunity for sharing experiences and best practices in justice sector reform across the country. Several states like Bauchi, Gombe, Zamfara and Rivers, who attended the conference as observers, committed to take steps towards establishing a state Justice Sector Reform Team soon.

'At the Nigeria Bar Association, we have always believed that the challenges faced by the Justice Sector are a reflection of the various failures in the various agencies that make up the justice sector. My participation in the inaugural retreat for the Adamawa state Justice Sector Reform Team which was facilitated by ROLAC has widened my understanding of the challenges facing the justice sector as a whole. I no longer see other agencies like the police and the judiciary as those to be blamed for the problems facing the sector, but partners with whom we can work together to collectively address the problems faced by every agency and develop reform initiatives to address them. I now see myself as wearing ‘two hats’ instead of one.'

Mr Everastus Odo, Chairman Nigerian Bar Association, Yola Branch at the inaugural retreat for the Adamawa State Justice Reform Team

Implementation of Child Rights Act (CRA)Implementation of Child Rights Act (CRA)

Lagos, FCT and Anambra states were recently supported to assess the level of implementation of the Child Rights Act in their various states. The assessment was also to identify challenges to implementation and identify/recommend key priority areas for intervention and scale of activities necessary to implement them. As part of the assessment, validation workshops were held on14th and 28th February in each state. 79 key stakeholders from Anambra, Lagos and FCT participated in these workshops. State and non-state actors involved in the implementation of the laws to validate the assessment findings provided inputs, exchanged experiences and knowledge on advancing the implementation of Child Rights Act in the 3 states which will feed into a draft implementation strategy In all 3 locations the validation meetings were well attended by key stakeholders from the Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development, the Nigerian Police Force, Ministries of Justice and CSOs. In Anambra state it also includes the Controller of Prisons Anambra State, and Chairman Justice Reform Sector Anambra State. At Federal level, the Federal Ministry of Justice, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Federal Capital Territory Authority (Social Development Secretariat), Ministry of Budget and Planning, FIDA, Legal Aid Council, FCT Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) and some International Development Agencies were represented. In Lagos, the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Office of Public Defender, Ministry of Education, Judiciary, DSVRT, Ministry of Health, and the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs participated

National Children’s Parliament Inauguration (22 to 25 May 2018)

RoLAC provided support to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to revive the National Children’s Parliament. The event brought together sixty-eight children (34 males and 34 females) from 34 states of Nigeria and the FCT and culminated in the election and inauguration of a new leadership for the Children’s Parliament by the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs & Social Development - Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan. The theme for the Children’s Parliament was “Creating Safe Spaces for Our Children: Our Collective Responsibility”.

Capacity Building of Law Enforcement Agencies - Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act

RoLAC successfully trained 38 staff of law enforcement agencies such as NAPTIP, FCT-SGBV Response Team, Federal Capital Territory Authority (Social Development Secretariat), Nigeria Police Force- Gender Unit, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), CSOs and other relevant agencies in investigating and prosecuting cases under the VAPP Act. The training took place in Kaduna from the 14th- 18th of May and was aimed at enhancing the capacity of the relevant law enforcement officers to undertake successful investigations and prosecutions of cases of violence against persons using the VAPP Act.

The training was based on recommendations from an assessment conducted by RoLAC on the extent of implementation of the VAPP Act in the FCT since its passage in 2015. The assessment showed that the level of application of the VAPP Act has been low due to several factors including limited capacities to investigate and prosecute cases under the Act.

Establishment of Anti-Corruption and Transparency Units (ACTUs) in States 23-25 April 2018

In April, RoLAC embarked on advocacy visits to the Heads of Service and awareness workshops with Permanent Secretaries and Directors in Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) in Kano, Anambra, Adamawa and Lagos states on how to create Anti-Corruption and Transparency Units (ACTUs) in the state MDAs and how to conduct Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) for target public sector institutions in their states. The ACTUs and CRAs seek to help private and public-sector institutions identify corruption risks in performance settings and implement mitigation measures to improve operations and service delivery.

The Heads of Service, Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Departments in the states expressed their total commitment to ensure successful implementation of the programs. That the state governments have given their full support is a break through and unprecedented, according to the ICPC. Hitherto, the ACTUs and CRAs were implemented only at the federal level. Lagos expressed a desire to implement the ACTUs and CRAs initiative through the state’s Citizens Gate.

In Kano, a total of 72 senior government personnel comprising Permanent Secretaries, Directors and other staff from the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission participated in the training while in Lagos 75 attended, Anambra 48 and 45 from Adamawa.

You can download the May 2018 newsletter below.