Stake­hold­ers seek speedy pas­sage of ACJ Bill 2013

Daily Trust - - FEATURE -

and Mr. God­win Odo from Jus­tice for All.

Ahmed Ali, a for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral (AG) Kwara State said that the ACJ Bill if passed by the se­nate will rev­o­lu­tion­ize the ad­min­is­tra­tion of crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in the na­tion by tack­ling the anachro­nis­tic ten­den­cies that are re­plete in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

He men­tioned that the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has since 2013 passed the ACJ Bill into law due to its im­por­tance, adding that it was im­per­a­tive for the se­nate to do same be­fore the end of the life span of the cur­rent Na­tional As­sem­bly (NASS). He men­tioned that if the Bill was not passed within the next four months, then the pas­sage will have to wait till the next NASS.

The bill is de­signed to re­form the crim­i­nal pro­ce­dure sys­tem, re­move ar­chaic pro­vi­sions from the ex­ist­ing crim­i­nal pro­ce­dure laws and in­tro­duce mod­ern mea­sures for speedy, ef­fi­cient and uni­form ad­min­is­tra­tion of crim­i­nal jus­tice in the coun­try.

The bill deals with the prob­lem of de­lay in the dis­pen­sa­tion of crim­i­nal jus­tice, which unar­guably re­mains the most per­turb­ing as­pect of crim­i­nal jus­tice de­liv­ery. It con­tains sev­eral in­no­va­tive ideas and prom­ises to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in Nigeria.

The bill pro­hibits the ar­rest of fam­ily mem­bers or as­so­ciates in lieu of the per­son sus­pected to have com­mit­ted a crime. It also pro­hibits tor­ture and all in­hu­man treat­ments of ar­rested per­sons.

As a way of halt­ing the prac­tice of tor­ture of sus­pects in po­lice cus­tody in the process of ex­tract­ing state­ments and ev­i­dence, the new law im­poses a duty on the po­lice to elec­tron­i­cally record or video the mak­ing and tak­ing of con­fes­sional state­ments from sus­pects.

The pro­posed law pro­vides that it is the duty of the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer to gen­er­ate full record of ar­rest with dates and pho­to­graphs of the per­son ar­rested for proper doc­u­men­ta­tion.

In the light of this, the bill also pro­vides for the es­tab­lish­ment of a Cen­tral Crim­i­nal Record Registry at the federal level and Crim­i­nal Records Registry at ev­ery State Po­lice Com­mand where this record of ar­rests would be kept. It also im­poses a duty on Court Regis­trars to trans­mit court de­ci­sions in crim­i­nal tri­als to the Cen­tral Registry within 30 days or face dis­ci­plinary mea­sures by the Federal Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

The bill also con­tains a pro­vi­sion for quar­terly re­ports by all au­thor­i­ties and agencies hav­ing power of ar­rest to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion. Sec­tion 29 states thus: “The In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice and head” of ev­ery agency au­tho­rized by law to make ar­rests shall remit quar­terly to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion a record of all ar­rests made with or with­out war­rant in re­la­tion to federal of­fences within Nigeria.

Other clauses of in­ter­est in­clude the pro­vi­sion of mech­a­nism for im­prov­ing prose­cu­tion by en­sur­ing that only legally trained per­sons pros­e­cute; mech­a­nism for im­proved regime for the pro­tec­tion of vic­tims of rape and other sex­ual of­fences and rule on con­victed preg­nant women.

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