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Monday, December 4, 2023

Implementation of ACJA/L in Kaduna State: Group Applauds MacArthur, CLEEN, Reassess Progress



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Bomba Dauda

The working group in the implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in kaduna state has applauded MacArthur Foundation for its resilience and commitment in financing both ACJA and ACJL to come to fruition and praised CLEEN FOUNDATION for its doggedness in ensuring the implementation of ACJA and ACJL in the state. The group made the remark at the 2nd bi-monthly of the state ACJA/L working group committee meeting held at the Ministry of Justice, State Secretariat, Kaduna.

While ushering accolade to MacArthur Foundation and CLEEN FOUNDATION and reviewing the progress made in ensuring the implementation of ACJA/L in the state, the Working Group emphasised that more needs to be done to achieve a ground breaking success in the full implementation of ACJA and ACJL in Kaduna state.

According to the group, “We have successfully presented copies of Practice Directions of Edo State and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to the Honourable Chief Judge of Kaduna State,” stressing that the move will add momentum to the synergy and collaboration between the Working Group and the ACJL monitoring committee.

Dovetailing the aforementioned, the group further stressed: the synergy if sustained will lead to the decongestion of the Recreational Centers (prisons) in the state. Adding, if the Kaduna State ACJL 2017 is implemented adequately the Recreational Centers in the state will be decongested,” which is one of the central focused of the ACJA/L in the state.

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Shedding more light on the expectations of the Working Group, it reiterated that: “The essence of coming together is to make every government agency be a key player in the implementation of the ACJA/L and be more effective in the decongestion of the Correctional Centers across the state. “This is why the Working Group comprises of officials of the Police, the Judiciary, the Prison Warden, EFCC, ICPC, NBA, FIDA and media personnel,” has said.

The Group also identified some challenges and gaps being faced by various institutions in the group: “The Panel Code of Kaduna State, 2017 provides for a minimum of N100, 000 to be imposed as fine. This is against the spirit of the purpose of Non-Custodial Sentence introduced by the ACJA/ACJL to aid prison decongestion. In practice, the offenders are hardly able to pay the amount as fine and still end up in prison.

“Some provisions of the ACJA/L are inconsistent with the Constitution.

“The rank and grade of the Magistrate saddled with the responsibility of monitoring arrests and detainees in custody of the Nigeria Police Force make it difficult for compliance in practical terms.

“The level of compliance of the Nigerian Police Force is very low in relation to Section 6 of the ACJA which deals with notification of cause of arrest and rights of suspects.

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“A law should be contemplated on the number of days a suspect has within which to apply for bail as the ACJL is silent on this.

“In practice there are Protocols on remand that subsists for more than 8 weeks.

The Group also made some observations. It observed that lack of understanding of ACJL in some quarters has a wider implication in the backing of the law by a huge population of people in the state. The Group recommended that, the ACJL needs to be translated to Hausa language to increase public awareness.

The chairman reiterated the need for training and re-training of those responsible for the implementation of the ACJA/ACJL and further advised that members of the Group should not focus on blaming each other but, rather use the strength as a Group for cross-sector synergy to address the gaps already existing in the implementation of the Law.”

The Monitoring and Evaluation officer of CLEEN FOUNDATION, Mr. Nnamdi Odo said he was enchanted with the commitment showed by stakeholders in contributing to see that the Justice sector is better. He also emphasized the importance of synergy and coordination within institutions.

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