The Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) was signed into law in May, 2015
by the immediate past President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The enactment of the ACJA is commendable as it has introduced some innovative measures to improve the justice delivery system in Nigeria which reflect international best practices in the administration of criminal justice. The purpose of the Act is to engender efficient management of criminal justice institutions, protect the interests of the suspect, the defendant and the victim.
It is in view of the crucial role of Legal Practitioners in administration of Justice that the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), the apex Institute for advanced research and continuing legal education with the support of the MacArthur Foundation organised a two day workshop for legal practitioners. The aim of the Workshop is to sensitise lawyers/ legal practitioners on the challenges, successes recorded thus far in applying the provisions of the Act and similar provisions in the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of the South South States.
The Workshop took place over two days (26th &27th November 2018) at the Monty Suites Hotel Calabar and was jointly declared open by the Director General of the NIALS Prof Adedeji Adekunle, SAN and the Attorney General of and Commissioner of Justice, Cross River State, represented by the DPP, Cross River State, Mr. Greg Okem. The opening was also graced by the NBA Chairman Port Harcourt Branch, Mr Sylvester Adaka and the Director of Studies, NIALS Associate Professor Emmanuel Okon. Participants at the Workshop included prosecutors and defence lawyers from the South-South states of Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom. The Workshop had in attendance a total of sixty four (64) participants.
The Attorney General of Cross River State made his remarks through the DPP while the DG NIALS conveyed the best wishes of Dr Kole Shettima, Director Africa MacArthur Foundation who was unavoidably absent.
3.0. SCOPE OF THE TRAINING WORKSHOP
The training comprised of paper presentations, working sessions, interactive sessions, breakout workshop syndicates and practical case scenario administration on participants. The Faculty included:
a) Professor Adedeji Adekunle, SAN- DG NIALS, Overview of ACJ Legislation.
b) Peter Anyebe, NIALS, Arrest, Remand, Bail Proceedings and Rights of Detainees.
c) Greg Okem- DPP, Cross River State, Prosecutorial Responsibilities under the ACJA
d) Joseph Umoren, DPP Akwa Ibom and Sylvester Adaka, chairman NBA Port Harcourt Branch, Interlocutory Applications, Adjournments and Timelines under the ACJA
e) Dr. Ibe Okegbe, NIALS, Disclosure Protocols under ACJA
f) Castro Nwabuzor, NIALS, Forfeiture and Seizure of Assets under the ACJA
There were breakout Workshop syndicates on:
1. Witness management and protection
2. Plea bargains and non-prosecution agreements
3. Prison decongestion and awaiting trial inmates
4. Developing guidance for non- conviction based penalties
5. Institutional Mechanisms for case management
6. Training and capacity building emphasis
The syndicate sessions were moderated by Associate Professor Emmanuel Okon, the Director of Studies, NIALS and each of the breakout sessions were managed by Dr. Ibe Okegbe, Castro Nwabuzor and Akobella Joshua who administered case scenarios.
The Workshop triggered comments and questions from participants who spoke passionately on the effect of the ACJA on their day to day practice. It was agreed amongst other things that the provisions of the Act should be invoked by the courts for proper administration of criminal justice.
The training was very successful as the feedback from participants during the sessions showed they were interested in the developments introduced by the ACJA and ACJ Laws.