By Patrick Obia
Stakeholders have been trained in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), and Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in Cross River State.
They were enjoined to synergize and work hand-in-hand for a robust dispensation of justice to those in need of it.
This was the take-home message in a two-day training session on the administration of criminal justice implementation in Nigeria, organized by CLEEN Foundation – a nongovernmental organization with the mission of promoting public safety, security, and accessible justice, held in Calabar.
The Stakeholders – the Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, judiciary, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Correctional Service among other agencies were told to share and collaborate in intelligence gathering and not see themselves as inter-agency rivals.
In an address to participants, the Executive Director of the Foundation, Gad Peter said the essence of the training is to interrogate compliance and implementation of ACJA.
He noted that the overriding objective of the Act is to ensure that the criminal justice machinery is positioned to promote efficient management of the criminal trial process, criminal justice institutions that superintend it, speedy dispensation of justice, and protection of the rights and interests of the suspect and the victim of crime.
“I am quite confident that this intervention by CLEEN Foundation will contribute robustly towards strengthening and enhancing the accountability of justice sector actors to execute their mandate in a professional, transparent and just manner than before, to rid the focal States and Nigeria of judicial enabled corruption.” He said.
Barrister Anne Agi, a Lecturer of law at the University of Calabar presented a paper on “evidence collection, processing and presentation by the police, and implementation of the ACJA 2015: arrest, detention, and search regime”.
She noted that for any suspect to be proven guilty, there must be evidence after thorough investigations.
This she said should be done using the seven “S” of crime scenes – securing, scanning, sketching, seeing the scene, separating the witnesses, searching for evidence, and securing and collecting evidence.
She asserts that section 1 of the Evidence Act provides that “Evidence may be given in any suit and proceedings of the existence or non-existence of every fact in issue and of such other facts as are hereafter declared to be relevant and of no others.”
She said the ACJA gives suspects the privilege of a fair hearing and is against illegal detention.
On day 2, speaking on the topic “inter-agency collaboration and coordination requirement under ACJA: their interface with other stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice” Barrister James Ibor said the Nigerian Police Force is at the center of the implementation of ACJA, 2015, and ACJL, 2016.
While acknowledging that the Police Act 2020 empowers the Force to make arrests and prosecute suspects, he said there is a reward to the way suspects conduct themselves during arrest – either get aggravated or mitigated punishment.
Ibor however, admonished the public and security agents to always rationalize their actions for a better dispensation of justice.
The human rights lawyer inferred that one of the issues of insecurity plaguing the country is a result of disobedience to court orders because some people feel they will not get justice or orders implemented.
In the training which was highly interactive and practical, he prayed those at the helm of dispensing justice to always carry out deep investigations and intelligence gathering in a case, adding that there is no perfect crime.
On his part, the Senior Program Officer of CLEEN Foundation, Mr. Benard Ekobay while emphasizing the need for networking amongst stakeholders, said not all crimes warrant jail term and by so doing, decongest the correctional centers.
Ekobay implored participants from the media, judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and civil society organizations among others, to do a step-down training as the Foundation will be willing to support them.