GOOD WILL MESSAGE DELIVERED BY THE HON. THE CHIEF JUDGE OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY, ABUJA, HON. JUSTICE HUSSEINI BABA YUSUFF, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 5TH ANNUAL CRIMINAL LAW REVIEW CONFERENCE OF THE RULE OF LAW OF LAW DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2023, AT THE J. B. DAUDU & CO., CONFERENCE HALL, ABUJA
I am very delighted and honoured to be invited as a Special Guest to deliver a special good will message at this auspicious 2023 5th Annual Criminal Law Review Conference of the Rule of Law Development Foundation.
I must pay special tributes to the protagonist of the Foundation, the most eminent and distinguished J. B. Daudu,SAN, whose vision and quest for the advancement of criminal justice delivery in our nation birthed these series of Criminal Law Review Conferences some five (5) years ago. Indeed, this Conference has come to be recognized as a veritable resource for the Bar, the Bench and other stakeholders in the criminal iustice sector for the creation of incremental awareness to engender practical and workable approaches to the application and implementation of Nigeria’s criminal justice statutes and criminal justice delivery as a whole.
As it is well known, criminal justice system addresses basic societal needs of maintenance of law, peace and order. It is without contention that law, peace and order deals with human behaviours which is acknowledged to be dynamic. As such, criminal justice must be dynamic and proactive in order to be effective in dealing with the peculiar behaviour of citizens.From the letter of invitation extended to me this 5th Annual Criminal Law Review Conference is convened to review the effectiveness of the Administration Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, among others, in securing the future of administration of criminal justice in the FCT. I am particularly delighted because this set target is an indication that, as stakeholders, we are not resting on our oars, neither are we basking in the euphoria of the successes we have recorded in the implementation of the ACJA thus far. It is therefore gratifying that this Conference provides Us unique opportunity to deliberate and have a holistic look at ACJA with the view to improving the delivery of criminal justice in the FCT.
We may wish to recall that, with its passage into law in 2015, the ACJA was widely viewed as revolutionary, and rightly so, because it was produced after an extensive stakeholders review and harmonization of the Criminal Procedure Code (CC) applicable in the states in northern Nigeria, and the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) applicable in the states in southern Nigeria. The whole idea was to come up with a single legislation that positions the Nigerian criminal justice machinery to promote speedy and efficient management of the criminal trial process, and to protect the rights of suspects and victims of crime in a manner that conform to the international best practices.
Undoubtedly, some of these rights had existed in the aforementioned legislations, but ACJA has added vigour and dynamism to them by addressing some grey areas that needed reform. Nonetheless, it is an undeniable fact that almost all human legislations have certain level of shortcomings, often occasioned by man’s limitation to foresee all immediate and emerging challenges, and ACJA is not an exception.
At the moment, it would seem that despite the provisions in the Act aimed at curbing delay in the dispensation of criminal justice, the problem is yet to be comprehensively resolved. From experience, part of this problem can be attributed to abuse of remand protocol by prosecuting agencies, lack of provisions for witness expenses and the problem of starting a trial de-novo, following the elevation, retirement or demise of the Presiding Judge, among many others.
These challenges do not only stall criminal trials, but also contribute to congestion in correctional centers and detention facilities contrary to the overriding obiective of the ACJA. This is therefore a vital aspect of justice administration in the FCT that we cannot afford to overlook.It is therefore my hope that this Conference, which is expected to be graced by very seasoned resource persons in the field, will provide a fitting platform to further engage the peculiar challenges that have been identified over the years, particularly with respect to the implementation of the ACIA, 2015; and to chart the way forward in our quest to improve the workings of our criminal justice statutes, create more awareness and exposure for the Bar and the Bench with a view to advancing the frontiers of the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria as a whole.
The Judiciary of the FCT assures the Rule of Law Development Foundation, its partners and indeed all stakeholders in the justice delivery sector of its continued cooperation and willingness to continue to embrace pragmatic recommendations and suggestions that may result from this conference and others of its kind, aimed at fostering quicker and more effective criminal justice delivery in the Federal Capital Territory.
I wish all participants very fruitful engagements at this very laudable Conference.