By Aplefe Ojong
Improved communication bolstered with coordination and collaboration among stakeholders in the justice delivery system has been identified as veritable tools in achieving an effective, lasting and comprehensive justice sector reform in Cross River State.
Chief Judge of Cross River state, Justice Okoi Ikpi Itam stated this at the occasion of the inauguration/retreat of the Justice Reform Team, sponsored by the Justice for All, a program funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), held at the conference hall, Ministry of Finance, Calabar.
He explained that reform of the justice delivery system has become pertinent for improved and expected outcomes that will produce tangible results, disclosing that the idea of establishing JRT in Cross River State is to bring together stakeholders as well as representatives of organizations in the justice delivery system to engage in cross-sector coordination with the aim to promote better communication and cooperation in the sector.
Justice Itam stressed that besides the effort to get rid of the ‘blame culture or ‘solo mentality’ where presently individual justice sector concentrate on their own narrow objectives, the setting up of JRT will also assist to fight the current delays in giving legal opinion by the Department of Public Prosecutor’s Office, weak police investigation processes, poor record keeping, lack of access to legal aid and pro-bono legal services, among others.
“With the inauguration of the Justice Reform Team in Cross River today, our Justice Sector is now set on the path of history to curb the delays often associated with justice delivery system that will meet the needs of our people in line with best practices all over the world”, adding, he commended the National Assembly for passing the Criminal Justice Administration Bill, while hoping that Mr. President will give prompt assent in the interest of the development of our nation’s criminal justice system.
The Cross River State Chief Judge enumerated the achievements recorded by his leadership in the areas of reform within the space of two and a half years to included putting together a Law establishing the Multi-Door Courthouse, sponsoring of the passage of the a Law establishing the Customary Court of Appeal, issuance of Practice Direction to govern procedure which established the Specialized Courts, Revenue Courts and Forestry Courts in the state as well as collaborated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the areas of capacity building for the Justice sector operators in computer literacy, sentencing guidelines, application of the Child Right’s Law dealing with child offenders and family matters and others.
Speaking, the National Program Manager, Justice for All, Abuja, Dr. Bob Arnot, represented by the Component Manager, Justice for All, Abuja, Godwin Odo, disclosed that the essence of the 50 million Pound organization was to improve the Justice system in Nigeria by working with the stakeholders in the Justice sector to improve quick dispensation of justice.
Goodwill messages were received from the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Barrister Eddy Ogon, represented by the state Solicitor-General, Mr. Ekpenyong Henshaw, Commissioner for Finance, Costakis Etim Caiafas, represented by the Director of Administration, Mr. Okpo Ita, the Commissioner for Women Affairs Mrs. Edak Iwuchukwu; Special Adviser, Department of International Donors and Cooperation, Mr. Roy Ndoma-Egba, Commissioner of Police Mr. Henry Fadairo represented by ACP, Salami Ganiyu and the state Comptroller of Prisons, Mr. Clement Udosen represented by Mr. Ibe Mba.
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