President Bola Tinubu Declares Open National Summit on Justice 2024

Apr 25, 2024 - 07:14
Apr 25, 2024 - 22:01
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President Bola Tinubu Declares Open National Summit on Justice 2024

By Frank Ajufo

President Bola Tinubu has charged all justice sector institutions, and professionals to align their activities with the tenets of his administration’s renewed hope agenda especially as it relates to the priorities of inclusivity, fairness and anti-corruption stance. President Tinubu, who gave the charge in Abuja, while declaring open the National Summit on Justice 2024, noted that since assumption of office, the current government has taken active steps towards urgently addressing certain concerns within the justice sector and rebuild citizens’ confidence in the judiciary.

Represented by the Vice President, Sen. Kashim Shettima, the President mentioned that he has signed into law the fifth alteration number 37 of the 1999 constitution; prioritised funding of the judiciary and other justice sectors; and ensured that Supreme Court now has its 21 full complement of justices as required by law for the first time in a long time. 

President Tinubu, further stressed that his administration has taken several steps to improve the justice system in Nigeria and assuage the frustrations the Nigerian public may have about justice delivery in Nigeria. While declaring the Summit open, the President urged participants to make good reform recommendations and assured of his government is commitment to ensuring that the outcome of the Summit become part of mechanisms that promote equal access justice for all Nigerians.

 “This Summit comes at a time when our country continues to face increasing public safety concerns arising from sundry acts of criminality, presenting a public distrust for law enforcement processes especially the justice system generally. “This therefore, presents justice sector institutions with an opportunity to push by identifying needed system changes and critical reforms that will allow Nigerians to reap the benefits of huge investments in the sector. “The key challenge for all justice sector institutions is for how to address the general feeling of frustration that the justice system is unresponsive to the needs of Nigerians.” Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, said it is incumbent upon participants to ensure a comprehensive reform that will promote justice delivery to the extent that the citizens can avow that justice is done each judgement is delivered on any matter.

 “The pursuit of justice lies at the heart of our collective aspirations, for a fair and equitable society. It is a fundamental pillar upon which the rule of law rests. And it is essential for the maintenance of peace, stability and social cohesion. “However, as we gather here today, we do so against the backdrop of persistent challenges that continue to hamper the effectiveness and accessibility of our justice system. “Access to justice reveals the distant reality for far too many Nigerians, with barriers ranging from procedural complexities to socio-economic realities. The quest for justice should not be a privilege reserved for a few but a right accessible to all, regardless of their circumstances.”

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who also welcomed participants, identified three key areas for reforms, amongst which were preventing the possibility of interference of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the delivery of judgements, checkmating the misuse of ex parte orders by judges, and the use of interlocutory injunctions to delay justice delivery. “In our view, to enhance efficiency while maintaining necessary checks, we propose the replacement of the requirement of the Attorney General’s consent with a mandatory notification system. Upon receiving a judgement against the government, the relevant authorities will be notified, the Attorney General himself will be notified in writing. And upon receiving the notification, the Attorney General will have a specific period say 30 days within which to respond either by way of appeal or settling the matter in line with the (Supreme Court) court’s decision. “Finally, we must try and curb the misuse of ex parte orders in political matters particularly by our judges.

 We further propose that the NJC should propose clear and detailed standards governing the issuance of ex parte orders, accompanied by a defined set of sanctions in the case of violations. These sanctions should be strong enough to serve as deterrence.”

Delivering the welcome address, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, promised that under his watch the justice sector will continue to push for mutuality in the formulation and implementation of the National Policy on Justice and National Judicial Policy. 

“Your Excellency, Mr President and distinguished participants, permit me to highlight some of the key interventions proposed to be pursued in the Revised National Policy on Justice, 2024. First, the Policy seeks to promote and protect human rights and access to justice which are essential features of a functional justice system. 

It proposes practical and sustainable interventions in the implementation of statutory provisions encouraging protection of human rights and access to justice. “The Policy also seeks to improve mechanisms for fair and speedy dispensation of justice; detention and correctional services; restorative justice; alternative dispute resolution (ADR) – developing Nigeria into an arbitration hub on the continent; commerce and economic activities; compliance with treaty obligations; synergy and cooperation across the justice sector; and independence of the judiciary; among others.

 “Regarding the emphasis on strengthening the independence and welfare of the judiciary, it is to be recalled that one of the cardinal items on the Renewed Hope Agenda of this administration is to drive judicial reforms to achieve sustainable socio-economic growth and investment, facilitated by the rule of law, and to address the challenges militating against judicial development in our country. “One key theme that has been added to the National Policy on Justice is Justice for Children.

 This is in line with our commitments under various international, regional and national instruments on protection of children consistent with the guiding principles on the best interest and welfare of the child.

The idea is to adopt deliberate and strategic interventions for dealing with children in contact with the law. “The Policy also places heavy emphasis on the deployment of technology in the administration of justice. This will not only ensure ease and efficiency in service delivery; it will also significantly boost awareness and access to justice for persons seeking administrative or judicial remedy.” 

The 2 Days National Summit on Justice 2024 which was planned jointly by the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA) has as its theme “Repositioning the Justice System: Constitutional, Statutory, and Operational Reforms for Access and Efficiency.”

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