The workshop commenced at 8:10am with the arrival and registration of participants. Participants were drawn from the State Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, International Federation of Female Lawyers, National Human Rights Commission, NGOs, Prisons, Police, Military, Academia, NBA, Media, NSCDC, DSS, EFCC and the Immigration Services.
The Acting Chairman NBA Kano branch; Muhammed Inuwa Musa Esq after recognizing and welcoming participants, stated that the ACJA bill of Kano State, if passed will surpass the existing ACJA 2015. He thanked the Project team for the opportunity given stakeholders to sit together and deliberate on the Act and prays that at the end of the workshop, its objectives will be achieved.
In his opening remarks the representative of the NBA President, Caleb Dajan Esq; 1st Vice-President of the NBA apologized for the unavoidable absence of the NBA President, A.B Mahmoud OON, SAN. He stated that all participants gathered at the workshop are stakeholders in the criminal justice system, which as it presently exists is faced with challenges. He stressed that the ACJA is a good legislation and is happy that Kano State has gone far to realize its domestication. He further urged all stakeholders present to cooperate for its speedy passage and domestication. He concluded by saying that it is the NBA’s President’s wish that at the end of the program, participants will benefit from its deliberations and decisions reached will be useful to the final outcome.
Mr. Caleb Dajan later inaugurated the nine (9) member state committee assigned with state level tasks to build partnership and work in collaboration with key stakeholders working in the area of domesticating and implementing the ACJA 2015, in Kano state.
The Project Coordinator, Muritala Abdul-Rasheed Esq, gave the project overview. He noted that, the administration of criminal justice project has two-pronged goals. These are principally to; Engender wide-spread criminal justice reform by encouraging the domestication of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 ‘ACJA’ in the outstanding 28 states to ensure uniformity in the administration of criminal justice legislation across Nigeria; and Promote the smooth implementation of the new criminal justice regime which the ACJA represents, by building stakeholders’ capacity within the 28 states.
He informed participants that the project team has lined up the following activities for the successful execution of the project.
• NBA Administration of justice conference:
• State-Level Legislative Advocacy and Technical Support.
• State Legislative Advocacy Sensitization Workshops:
• State Validation Public Forums with Stakeholders:
• Regional (Regulatory Review) Meetings:
• Continuing Legal Education and Capacity Development for Legal Practitioners.
“There is no doubt that Kano State has gone far in the process of domesticating the ACJA. It has gone a step further by marrying some of the provisions of the ACJA with the sharia law in an unprecedented move. The bill is currently awaiting final adoption by the committee of the whole House. “
He commended the efforts of the Attorney General of Kano State; Ibrahim Mukhtar and the ACJL drafting committee for a job well done. “We do hope that in a few weeks, we will all come back here for a State Validation Public Forum with Stakeholders after the State Governor has assented to the bill.” He concluded.
In his welcome address, the Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for Kano State, Ibrahim Mukhtar Esq., welcomed dignitaries presents and proceeded to highlight the stage Kano has reached to achieved domestication of the Act. He stated that on realizing the inadequacies of the Criminal Procedure Code which has been in existence since 1960, he set up a 16 man committee made up of stakeholders in various professions but mostly lawyers to look into possible reforms.
The committee was supported by ROLAC, British Council and sat for 2weeks. The committee succeeded in combining the ACJA and the CPC, with attention to peculiarities in existing courts. “The Committee decided that there is a need to have a uniform law that governs Crime in the state and at the end of its deliberations, came up with a draft which was further improved on at a validation workshop.” He added that, “presently, Kano State Government has a unique draft and other Northern States are requesting for copies. In view of the fact that the CPC as it stands cannot stand the growing population and development of crime, there was a need for a model law. “
He also stated that the Committee thought it necessary to retain some positive sections of the CPC and pointed that although Kano State has passed the sensitization stage, he hopes that it will get the needed support to ensure speedy passage of the Bill into law.
The Acting Chief Judge, ably represented by Hon. Justice R. A Sadiq, welcomed participants present and specially acknowledged the presence of three silks and the Attorney-General of the State. He expressed gratitude to the organizers of the programme and said that it is a welcome development from the Bar. He stressed the importance of the domestication of the Law which will aid the judiciary in the speedy dispensation of justice in Nigeria and Kano State in particular. He said that he is sure that the Act will soon be domesticated in the State by virtue of the determination of the Attorney-General who is a vibrant member of the Bar. He wished everyone present successful deliberations and welcomed the project team to Kano on behalf of the Acting Chief Judge.
Prof. A. B. Ahmed of the Bayero University, Kano who represented Prof. Muhammad Tabiu, SAN as the Keynote Speaker gave an overview of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
Prof. Ahmed maintained that, how well a country manages its criminal justice system affects its overall performance on the governance index.
“A country that gets its criminal justice system right has effectively addressed a great part of its governance concerns because of its centrality to order and stability. Justice and development are inextricably interwoven. Without justice there can be no Order and Stability and without Order and Stability there cannot be development. Injustice breeds anger, social strife, disorder and instability. So there is probably no instrument more potent than the ACJA for initiating change and restoring sanity to any society.”
He added that; “The Act responds to Nigeria’s dire need of a new legislation that could transform the CJS to reflect the true intent of the Constitution and the demands of a democratic society; eliminate unacceptable delays in disposing of criminal cases and improve the efficiency of criminal justice administration in the country.”
He went further to point out some innovations introduced by the ACJA 2015 to include S.6; Unlawful detention which he described as the gateway to ACJA, S.8; which provides that a suspect shall be accorded humane treatment, having regard to his right to the dignity of his person and should not be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, S.10; which mandates the police upon arrest of a suspect to take inventory of all items or property recovered from the suspects and the police officer and the suspect must duly sign the inventory, S.15; Record of Arrest, S.16; Establishment of a Police Central Criminal Registry, S.110; which introduces Time Lines in Magistrate Courts, S.396; Speedy Trial etc.
He concluded by asserting that: “The Administration of Criminal Justice Act is a bold and courageous attempt to improve the criminal justice system in Nigeria. This is because of the fact of the realization that effective criminal justice system is fundamental to democratic governance and the rule of law. It is very encouraging to note that so many states have embraced this revolution. Therefore Kano State should not be left behind.”
In his lead presentation, Aliyu Umar SAN, said the Administration of Criminal Justice System in Nigeria is a system of criminal Justice mainly concerned with the enforcement of the criminal law for the purpose of peace, order, social and economic development of the Nigerian society. “It deals with the arrest, investigation, charges, trial, conviction, sentencing and punishment of criminal offenders in Nigeria.” He added, “The system which is accusatorial in nature consists of the intricate interplay of major governmental institutions –including the police, the judiciary – Federal and States, the private and public Bar, the Legal Aid Council and the prison service.”
He went further to point out some innovations introduced by the ACJA 2015 while reiterating that it is his; “honest opinion that Kano State must as a duty, domesticate the ACJA. The benefit that can be derived from doing so is unquantifiable. It will ensure a just and speedy dispensation of Criminal Justice.”
Aliyu Umar SAN, concluded by saying that domesticating the act will enable the State as a Sharia State to incorporate the Sharia Procedure into the Law and thus enhance the implementation of the Sharia.
“In these times in Nigeria, when the clamour for restructuring is law, each of the components of the country is loudly calling for it, the advocates are putting their interest first and secondly, the need for unity, it is only the elites, politicians in similar States like Kano that are silent. This domestication will enable them to advance their interest of the people of Kano State and the need for the country. The restructuring will take place and Kano State must advance and demand the values they hold dear.”
In his Presentation, M. S. Abubakar Esq; Prosecutor EFCC-Abuja thanked the Nigerian Bar Association for extending the invitation and also his employers for giving him the permission to attend. He noted that his presentation is his personal views not that of his employers.
He proceeded to highlight some of the innovations of ACJA 2015 and also noted its constraints to include Political will to enforce, funding, limited application due to federalism, and resistance to change due to human nature, hence the need for sensitization and public advocacy such as this.
Huwaila Ibrahim, Esq Chairman of FIDA Kano Branch while discussing the Paper presented by the lead speaker noted that ACJA is silent on issues that has to do with juvenile cases and urge the state Assembly to protect the rights of juvenile before passing the law.
She equally closes her discussion with appreciation to the NBA and Mac Arthur foundation for organizing the workshop.
S. O. Ekwe – O. C Legal, Kano State Police Command noted that, in ACJA police are enjoined to refrain from participating in civil matters, but wondered why lawyers would write petition in respect of civil matter and couched it in a way that it will look like crime. I recommend that Kano State law should take this into consideration and sanction lawyers that are involved in such practices.
The chief of staff to the NBA President, Mr. Muritala Abdul-Rasheed gave the vote of thanks at the closure of the workshop. He thanked the chairman of the occasion, the presenters, the learned SANs and all the stakeholders present at the workshop for contributing to the success of the program.