AGF solicits collaboration with state counterparts to fight corruption
In a concerted effort to ensure that the battle against corruption is won on all fronts, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN has sent a passionate plea to the 36 states Attorneys General across the country to support the anti-graft war of the present administration.

In a statement released Friday and made available to newsmen, Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said Malami made the call while addressing the meeting of the Body of Attorneys General on Thursday, July 28th, 2016 in Abuja.

Isah disclosed that the Minister appealed to the Body of Attorneys General that those that are yet to establish reform teams and anti-corruption policies and units to immediately conform so as to provide the desired synergy in tackling corruption, fraud and security challenges confronting the nation.

According to him, the Minister explained that the essence of the reviewing Justice Sector Reform Plan was to make justice accessible to all Nigerians at all situations.

“The Justice Sector Reform Plan-currently under review sets out a vision that seeks to provide timely and accessible justice to all Nigerians in an efficient manner regardless of their ethnic group, gender, marital status, age, economic status, disability, religion, belief, culture, language or any other attribute. Our objective is to restore public confidence in the administration of justice in Nigeria”, he quoted the AGF as saying.

Malami opined that the Body of Attorneys General would achieve their vision in reviewing the Justice Sector Reform Plan through four key strategic objectives which includes efforts in strengthening Legal Drafting and Law Review Process, Strengthening Prosecution, Adjudication, Enforcement and Asset Recovery Mandates, Strengthening Public Engagement and Accountability Systems and also Support International Cooperation and National Coordination across the Justice Institutions and with the Judiciary, and the Legislature.

He further stressed that the overall objective of the reform plan review was to develop and implement a broad-based reform programme for the justice sector in Nigeria aimed at key priority areas and identifying funding gaps for the sector.

He said, the review is also expected to x-ray the strategy for engagement with the public and how the Justice Institutions would be assessed over the next four years.”

Following the objective of the reform plan, the Minister emphasized on the expected outcome: improved coordination of the justice sector reform programs at different levels of governance, improved enforcement and prosecution of complex criminal and corrupt cases, improved stolen asset recovery procedures and increase in the amount recovered from corrupt politicians, public officers and corporate bodies, improved administration of the criminal justice system.

In addition are improved relationship with the security sector, improved respect for human rights and rule of law in Nigeria and reduction in impunity, improved skills of law officers, improved interaction with businesses and improved investment environment, improved internal accountability measures and reduction in internal corruption across anti-corruption and justice sector institutions.

Others include, improved working relationship between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary leading to improved handling of complex cases as well as improved relationship between the Federal Ministry of Justice, non-state actors and professional bodies.

The AGF further stated that all-inclusiveness is necessary if justice must be seen and extended to all and sundry as such, “we will take cognizance of people with special needs, the vulnerable, children, women and youths, particularly those who are disadvantaged by reason of civil conflict, or status in life.

”We will build on the previous efforts of the Ministry of Justice’s reform initiatives through the Federal Justice Reform Sector Coordination Committee (FJRSCC) and the State Justice Sector Reform Teams”, he added.

Malami observed that the implementation of the reform plan may not be successful without adequate funding; he however pledged to seek for approval for a budget that maybe tagged ‘Justice Sector Trust Fund’.

“We would seek for the approval of a budget that will ensure that Justice Sector has a dedicated ‘Justice Sector Trust Fund’ just like the ‘Education Trust Fund’ and through proactive engagement with international and national development partners”, he assured.

The Minister also unveiled efforts being made towards the review of National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) Document, an instrument to fight corruption, emphasizing that the nation’s criminal justice system was bedeviled with many challenges which had hindered free and fair trial of suspects.

Malami equally maintained that it is in effort to address these identified challenges that the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Act, 2015 was enacted.

“The Act in broad terms has shifted the goal of criminal justice administration from punishment to restorative justice by focusing on the needs of society, the victims, the vulnerable persons and human dignity by repealing those provisions in our criminal laws that have been subjected to all forms of abuses”.

“Top on agenda of the meeting are: ratification of some issues of concern raised by members which includes: Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap. R11LFN, 2004; the need to strengthen the categories of Electoral Offences in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015 from misdemeanor to felony; the constitutionality and/or validity of the National Lottery Act, Cap N145LFN, 2010, being a matter on the Residual List of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended)

“Others are the issue of delay in the trial of suspects held in prisons in the various States for offences committed under the Miscellaneous Offences Act and the need to grant fiats to state Prosecutors to collaborate with Federal Ministry of Justice to prosecute these offences.

Earlier, The Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun observed that the meeting remains a veritable tool for cross fertilization of ideas between and amongst States Attorney General and the Attorney General of the Federation.

He further said, “As Chief Law Officers and political heads of the Ministries of Justice of the various states, your inputs and validation will no doubt enrich the policy and its smooth national implementation. Your resolution on other issues will in no small measure assist the ministry in driving the much needed reform in the justice sector”.

Also speaking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) Country Representative, Christiana Albaton, in her remarks, noted that in preventing vices associated with drugs, human trafficking and other criminalities, effective justice delivery system is required.




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