Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Following the fallout from #EndSARS protests that ravaged the country, the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC) has advised President Muhammadu on key measures to take to avert danger during the ember period.
The Committee in a communiqué signed by its Executive Secretary, Malam Sulayman Kuku-Dawodu, pressed for urgent intervention in the criminal justice system in the wake of recent public protests in the country.
The Committee cautioned the Federal Government to take urgent necessary measures to safeguard lives and properties by strengthening the Police Force and other security agencies ahead of this period.
Noting the need to restore law and order in the country ahead of December, the Committee said challenges in the criminal justice system have contributed to the partial collapse of law and order in the country fuelled by the #EndSARS protests.
The communiqué made twelve other recommendations for tackling issues that resulted in the decadence of the criminal justice sector.
Recognizing the protests as a wake- up call to work to restore public confidence in the nation’s justice administration of criminal justice, ACJMC identified lack of funding for the Police Force, prosecution, judiciary and correctional service as catalysts of the decadence.
It deplored the dilapidated state of Police detention and correctional service facilities and the total absence of requisite facilities, equipment and adequate training for the Police and other law enforcement agencies nationwide.
“Lack of adequate prosecutors and support for witness allowances, to prosecute offences resulting in congestion of Court`s dockets and detention facilities.
“Lack of cooperation amongst the police and other criminal justice stakeholders, leading to suspicions and distrust amongst the organs of administration of criminal justice.
“Loss of confidence by members of the public in the administration of criminal justice based on the issues highlighted”, the communique said.
The Committee further noted there is an urgent need to restore the confidence of foreign partners and investors by saving the criminal justice system from total collapse and averting future disaffection with criminal justice institutions.
Part of the suggestions made includes the creation of a special intervention fund for the criminal justice sector to be funded by the Federal and State Governments, private individuals, corporate entities and international partners/donors.
“The fund will include fiscal and or specific infrastructural procurement. There will be a legal framework to implement and manage the fund using an executive Bill by the Honorable Attorney General of the Federation to the National Assembly,” the Committee said.
Other suggestions include the decongestion of SARS detention facilities nationwide and other police detention facilities by building courtrooms in detention facilities that are known to have large detention capacity.
Others are providing adequate manpower for the prosecutors, de-clogging of the dockets of the Director of Public Prosecution, de-clogging of Court dockets improved communication between detainees and correctional service officials.
Also suggested, is the setting up of the National and State Committees on the implementation of Non-Custodial Sentences and building synergy amongst Criminal Justice Stakeholders.
The Committee also recognized the role of media in criminal justice administration as grossly misinformed and not properly enlightened on the position and the impact of criminal justice actors in the society.
The need to empower bodies like the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC) and the National Human Rights Commission to be self- sustaining and effective agencies were also identified.
The meeting was attended, among others, by Director of Legal, National Human Rights Commission, Legal Officer, Force Headquarters Legal Department, and representative of the Director of Public Prosecution, representing Attorney General of the Federation.
Others included the Director, Legal Aid Council, Controller of Correctional Service, Cleen Foundation, CSO representative and the Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association, Bwari Branch.