The Lagos State Judiciary has embarked on a two-day training workshop to educate magistrates on the application of the restorative system at the Multi-door Court House, Igbosere High Court, Lagos.
While declaring the workshop open, Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, said the training was necessary to equip magistrates with necessary knowledge and skills on how to apply the restorative justice system in their various courts.
Justice Oke stated that the decision to adopt a restorative justice approach in the state judiciary was to ensure that offenders were not just punished but reintegrated into society.
She said: “We are changing the narrative in Lagos State by the introduction of restorative justice at the Magistrate courts level. This will ensure that restorative justice outcomes are applied to many minor offences.
“Today in Nigeria, we have seen countless cases where defendants are arrested for minor offences such as burglary, wandering and others. They are locked up in our prisons for the flimsiest reasons and this increases the number of those incarcerated and awaiting trial,” she explained.
“In fact, the awaiting-trial inmates account for more than 75% of the inmates in our prisons today. They are in our prisons with hardened criminals and by the time they come out they have been initiated into a life of crime and are ready to spread terror, death and destruction in their post-prison escapades,” Justice Oke said.
The chief judge reiterated that the training was being held in line with her resolve to ensure the entrenchment of restorative justice in the administration of justice in Lagos State as well as to create more avenues for access to justice based on a holistic approach to criminal justice administration.
She, therefore, urged the magistrates to ensure that they used the training to equip themselves with requisite knowledge and skills needed to ensure efficient and effective application of the new system.
“The skills you will learn at this training will be a foundation to your effective mediation in our restorative justice centres. So I enjoin you all to pay rapt attention and take all you can from this training. You are at the vanguard of this revolution in the criminal justice space of Lagos State. We must make it work and set an example for the whole country to follow,” she said.
Noting that the system would soon be officially launched along with the establishment of restorative justice centres in the seven magisterial districts in the State, Oke affirmed that Lagos State intends to roll out the restorative justice project after the training programme.