A group of stakeholders has strongly condemned the prevalence of jungle justice among Nigerians, attributing the heinous incidents to inefficiencies in the justice system.
According to them, such inefficiencies culminate in “long delay in the trial of cases which naturally breeds resentment of the system by members of the general public, as their expectations are not met by the justice system”.
The stakeholders comprising lawyers, top police officers, and media practitioners drawn from the South-South geopolitical zone of the country, arrived at that conclusion in Warri, Delta State, at the end of a two-day workshop.
The workshop titled, ‘The Role of the Nigeria Police in the Implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Compliance with Principles of Human Rights in Law Enforcement’, was organised by the Nigerian Bar association in collaboration with MacArthur Foundation.
Speakers at the workshop included the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata; Hon. Justice Anthony Olotu Akpovi of Warri Criminal Division of Delta State Judiciary; a former Deputy Director, Legal and Investigation, National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Saka Azimazi; a renowned security expert, Mr. Idris Bawa as well as a former Attorney General in Delta State, Chief Victor Otomiewo, among others.
A communique issued at the end of the programme, and made available to journalists in Warri on Wednesday, highlighted the group’s worry about “the slow pace of Criminal trials resulting in the high number of awaiting trial inmates in the correctional centers.”
The group noted with concern, “The consequences of this loss of confidence in the system include resort to jungle justice and self-help.”
Consequently, they canvassed for “sustained awareness-creation and capacity building for key actors in the administration of Criminal Justice in the country.”
The group reeled out the objectives of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 to include the promotion of efficient administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, enforcement of the speedy dispensation of justice, protecting the society from crime as well as protecting the rights and interests of the suspect, defendant and the victim.
To actualize the objectives, the forum advocated for respect for the rights of suspects, defendants, and victims; electronic recording of confessional statements; speedy trials with timelines for adjournments and conclusion of trial as well as alternatives to custodial sentences, among others.
Addressing the gathering earlier, the NBA President, Mr. Akpata, tasked lawyers in the country to “be vigilant” of the antics by politicians to destabilise the Association with the motives of achieving parochial interests.
While noting that the NBA “is very dear” to legal practitioners in the country, Akpata insisted that he was calling on members to watch out for what he tagged “the conspiracy to dim the power of the Nigerian Bar Association.”
He said, “The NBA is one of the foremost professional organisations in Nigeria, and I think we must be careful. We must protect what we have achieved. This organisation not only superintends over the affairs of lawyers, but has interjected into the affairs of the nation.
“As lawyers, we have the mandate of the people to defend them, enforce the rule of law, to speak for them and to ensure that this country is run on the basis of our Constitution and not on the wings and caprices of anybody. Not many people are happy that the Association is strong and vibrant.
“I am about to leave the stage as President, and I am just charging my colleagues to be vigilant that not many are happy about the nature and strength of our Association. So, I think we must protect that which is ours”.
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