Stakeholders in the justice sector have identified some grey areas in the Administration of Criminal Justice Law and called for a review of the legislation to make its implementation more effective.
They spoke during a one-day workshop on the review and implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Bayelsa State, held in Yenagoa on Thursday.
Participants of the workshop, supported by the MacArthur Foundation, included legal practitioners and representatives of the judiciary, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the International Association of Women Lawyers, among others.
Speaking, the state Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, said the ACJL which came into force in 2019 was aimed at promoting efficient management of judicial institutions and enhancing quick dispensation of justice.
She stated that there were some gaps in the law that needed to be improved upon such as a provision that should enable magistrates to go to the police stations to grant bail to suspects who are detained longer than necessary.
Abiri said, “There are areas that make it impossible for the purpose and vision of the ACJL to be fully achieved which include timeline in which criminal trials must be commenced and concluded while at the same time respecting the rights of not just the victims, but also the suspects and the defendants as well.
“It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered.”
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of ACJ Monitoring Committee, Sulayman Dawodu, explained that the forum was organised to strengthen the implementation of the ACJL in Bayelsa “as it were in places like Lagos, Rivers, Nasarawa and other states where the law is quite effective.”
He said, “We are happy to confirm that Bayelsa is one of the states identified for implementing the MacArthur Foundation support project of strengthening the ACJL/JSRT at state level.
“We are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for this opportunity and for filling the vacuum created by our respective governments that have ignored or relegated the development of the criminal justice system to the background, leading to the current state of insecurity, corruption in the land, perennial congestion of our detention and correctional facilities and courts.”
In his remarks, the Bayelsa State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo, described the workshop as timely, adding that it would provide opportunity for stakeholders to review the lacunae militating against effective implementation of the ACJL in the state.
The state Commissioner of Police, Ben Okolo, assured participants that the state command would work with all stakeholders for the full implementation of the criminal law.
Also, the state chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, Yenagoa branch, Ukunbiriowei Saiyo, said the workshop was vital and called for amendments to the grey areas.
The participants, at the end of the forum, agreed that an ACJL monitoring and implementation committee would be re-established in the state on March 15, 2022.