Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has enjoined the Federal Government to establish a system that will ensure a level playing field for the application of the law and justice for both the rich and the poor in the country.
This is contained in a statement made available to newsmen by Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in Abuja.
He disclosed that the governor stated this in his welcome address delivered at the National Sensitization Workshop on the National Policy on Justice for the South-West Zone, in Ibadan, Oyo State last Tuesday.
Ajimobi who was represented by his Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Oluseun Abimbola opined that the country is in search of effective ways to rekindle the people’s confidence in court system that would ensure a level playing field for the application of the law and justice for both the rich and the poor, adding that such system would not condone impunity.
He explained that, ”A system that will ensure that no criminal escapes the long hands of justice, a system that dispenses justice timeously, facilitates quick resolution of disputes, offers remedial reliefs to victims of infectious and commands the confidence of citizens and investors.
“We are in search of a justice system that will salvage our international perception from being a country where indicted persons escape through the justice system only to be convicted in other countries. This is unacceptable”.
He expressed optimism that stakeholders would take advantage of the two-day sensitization workshop to foster exchange of ideas and experiences between states and institutional participants to ensure that the reform being championed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice spread across and abroad.
Furthermore, he added that though experiences differ from state to state, yet all needed reform of the institutions.
“This gathering should brainstorm on the adequate funding of the judiciary as well as ways of entrenching Alternative-Dispute Resolution Mechanism across all levels of our courts”.
He disclosed that Oyo State has embarked on various reforms, one of which is the State Multidoor Courthouse that would soon commence operations with the passing of the enabling law by the Oyo State House of Assembly.
He added that hopes are high that the Assembly would proffer solution to prison congestion and fashion out a legal framework for better reformative measures in the criminal justice and penal system.
Earlier in his opening address, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN represented by the Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Umar Etsu disclosed that the ministry has commenced the first series of the National Sensitization Workshop on the National Policy on Justice in the geo-political zones of the country.
He explained that the efforts is in line with Federal Government’s initiatives at providing opportunities and platforms to strengthen collaboration, coordination and consensus-builders among justice sector institutions for effective service delivery, and promoting the rule of law and socio-economic development.
He said the participants were expected to critically examine the policy and initiate an implementation roadmap that will articulate into an implementation strategy plan. The strategy plan will thereafter serve as the framework upon which the policy is implemented, monitored and evaluated by all stakeholders”.
In his welcome address, the Solicitor General of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata represented by the Director, Finance and Account of the Ministry, Dr. Yakubu Mohammed explained the importance of the workshop particularly in that a national policy on justice with input from all stakeholders would be presented for consideration.
“We now have such policy in place and marked a paradigm shift. The policy sets out agreed principles and guidelines for effective and efficient service delivery”, an elated SGF affirmed.
He added that the policy will provide the framework for resolving cross institutional problems, develop and manage an all-inclusive reform, as well as coordinate the implementation of reforms.
“It will provide a blueprint which outlines the various reforms desirable in the justice sector to engender smooth, fair, just and transparent administration of justice in the country and also the needed professional guidance for all justice sector institutions in the discharge of their duties and the attainment of an effective and efficient administration of justice”.
Akpata continued that the sensitization workshop would serve as a platform where the policy would be critically examined through the various presentations to be made and inputs harvested into an implementation strategy plan to be develop for the implementation of the policy.
He expressed appreciation to the Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi for his support in organizing the workshop.
He thanked the AGF/MOJ for his leadership and unflinching commitment to the reform of the justice system, adding that the Federal Ministry of Justice under his leadership has continued to lead the process of galvanizing the justice sector to play its role in national development.
Participants at the workshop from the South West Zone of Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun and Ekiti States, include Judges, Solicitors General and Permanent Secretaries , Commissioners of States Ministry of Justice, members of the Nigeria Bar Association, Civil Society Organizations, Nigeria Prisons Service and Senior Officials from the Federal Ministry of Justice among others.