Enugu – The acting Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Raymond Ozoemena, has assured that the nation’s judiciary would uphold all measures meant to protect human rights in the state.
Ozoemena gave the assurance in Enugu on Wednesday, while declaring open a three-day training on the Implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 and Human Rights for Officials of Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigeria Police Force and Judiciary.
The Enugu CJ maintained that the judiciary was committed to justice and fairness in the discharge of its duties by ensuring that perpetrators of human rights violations receive their deserved justice and their victims’ appropriately compensated.
“I wish to categorically state that Enugu State Judiciary is a committed partner and will continue to support and offer whatever assistance required in ensuring that the rights of Nigerians are not violated as well as incidents of human rights abuses becomes a thing of the past,” he said.
He noted that through the engagement of stakeholders in the justice sector; the judiciary, its affiliate agencies and actors can achieve a very robust, fair and efficient criminal justice system.
“It is therefore very important that we continue to work together to ensure that we protect the rights of every individual in the society. This can only be achieved through an efficient and effective criminal justice administration.
“I implore all participants to fully engage the resource persons and other participants on the areas of concern to enable us to achieve a better and more efficient justice system,’’ he said.
Ozoemena also appreciated the Swiss Embassy in Nigeria; the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime and UCHEFEM Consultancy Ltd for organising the training for the justice sector stakeholders in the state.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of UCHEFEM Consultancy Ltd, Mr Uche Owete, said the training was meant to increase interdependence, cross-sectorial coordination, competences and capacities of major criminal justice actors to effect serious and durable changes in the sector.
“This is for the overall benefit of the Nigerian Correctional Service and the justice system,” Owete said.
According to him, assurance of shared responsibility by these actors with a view to changing the justice landscape and reducing human rights violations, will be achieved through this training.
“The idea is to inculcate the use of alternatives to imprisonment by magistrates in criminal justice administration as a means of reducing congestion in our correctional facilities and pretrial detention and the treatment of vulnerable persons, including children.
“To ensure police observance of human rights standards during interrogation, detention and trial will be reduced drastically.
“We will also highlight in the course of the training, major innovations in criminal justice administration in Nigeria,” he said.
In an address, the Controller General of Correctional Service, Mr Haliru Nababa, said delay had over the years been a major impediment in the effective and speedy dispensation of criminal justice in Nigeria.
Nababa represented by the Commandant of Correctional Training School, Enugu, Mr Y.A. Sambo noted that concomitance of these delays lead to overcrowding of the custodial centres, as statistics indicate a staggering over 70 per cent of the total inmates’ population as awaiting trial persons.
“A peep into the ACJA Act indicates some novel and noble provisions put in place to ensure amongst others, speedy trial and quick disposal of criminal cases in the interest of all parties involved.
“These provisions are deliberate measures aimed at addressing these teething problems of unnecessarily prolonged criminal trials,’’ Nababa said.
In a goodwill message, the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Mr Lawal Abubakar, lauded the synergy that existed between the Police, Nigerian Correctional Service and the state judiciary.
Abubakar, represented by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mrs Hope Isiani, noted that the training would facilitate greater understanding and synergy among security agencies and actors within the justice sector.
Over 40 participants drawn from the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Correctional Service, judges and magistrates among others from Enugu State are attending the training.