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Justice delivery: Stakeholders brainstorm

By Sunmola Olowookere
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Ondo state Magistrates, representatives of the police and the Department of Public Prosecution converged at a one day meeting to seek ways to fully implement  the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in the state.

The strategic meeting on ACJL was organized by Rights Enforcement and Public Law Center (REPLACE).

The Executive Director of REPLACE, Mrs Felicitas Aigbogunbrai in her address stressed the need for stakeholders to address the challenges inherent in the ACJL.

She explained that the objective of the meeting would be to look at how the time frames for certain protocols stipulated in the ACJL were adhered to.

The Ondo State Chief Judge, Justice Olutoyin Akeredolu while commending the initiative of the facilitators of the meeting said,  that it  came at a time when all were concerned about justice with the hope that it would bring peace to the society.

The resource person, Mr. Hillary Okegbuale identified several challenges militating against full implementation of the ACJL.

Speaking on the issue of torture as one of the factors, he asserted that from research conducted, 100 percent of lawyers contacted said that there was no structure put in place at the police stations to monitor the interrogation of suspects by the police while 66 percent of police claimed that such structure exist.

Okegbuale argued that pretrial detention as an aspect of criminal proceedings should be minimized in the Nigerian society as a bid to decongest prison, citing  overpopulation being currently witnessed at Olokuta Medium Security Prison as an example.

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At the end of the meeting, the participants resolved that there must be synergy between all the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the ACJL so as to ensure that time frames and stipulation for due protocols are adhered to.

It was also resolved that a directory for lawyers willing to provide free services for suspects must be placed in all courts and police stations.

It would be recalled that the ACJL was adopted in Ondo state in 2015 making the state a close second to Lagos state.

The law is an improvement on the existing criminal laws obtained then as there were lapses in the criminal procedure laws which were corrected in the ACJL.”

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