High court in session in Nigeria ©

Justice for All

October 2019

The Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) programme supported the development of sentencing guidelines for courts in the criminal justice system in Edo and Anambra states. The guidelines establish standards for all sentences passed under the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law. 

While the criminal laws were codified prior to the adoption of the sentencing guidelines, decisions for sentencing of offences under such laws were not. The lack of guidance to judicial officers in exercising their legal discretion and transparency in sentencing naturally led to crime offenders being given widely differing sentences. 

The innovative guidelines are expected to entrench fairness and objectivity in sentencing of persons convicted by courts. The guidelines leave no room for courts to sentence convicts arbitrarily for the same offences under similar circumstances. 

The sentencing guidelines were developed in collaboration with a technical committee comprised of representatives from across the sector and validated by the state's high court judges. 

Training was delivered for magistrates, judges, prosecutors, lawyers from the Nigerian Bar Association, and representatives from the media and civil society on their application.

The guidelines are now binding in all courts of criminal jurisdiction in both states.

‘The guidelines are a direct response to the haphazard approach in sentencing by the courts.’ Hon. Justice Acha, Head of the High Court Criminal Division and Chair of the Technical Committee on the Development of the Edo state Sentencing Guidelines