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Deji Adebayo, Abuja
The President of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) and a Professor of law, Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, has set some agenda for the incoming government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as he prepares to assume office later this month having been declared winner of the 2023 presidential election.
Prof. Akinseye-George, SAN, said this during the training of young Lawyers organised by the centre in partnership with MacArthur Foundation on the effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/ Administration of Criminal Justice Laws in Abuja.
Akinseye-George said: “As young lawyers, you have many career options. One of them is public interest lawyering.
“That’s what we do at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS). For several years now we have focused on the development of the Nigerian criminal justice system. We joined forces with like-minded individuals and organizations to develop the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which was passed at the Federal level in 2015. We note that the ACJA has now been passed into state laws in 35 of the 36 states of the Federation. We salute the States for keying into the reform of the criminal justice system. But passing the law is only a beginning. The real task is to effectively implement the laws. To assist the governments, our Centre has developed the concept of National Minimum Standards(NMS) for the effective implementation of the ACJA and ACJLs”.
While highlighting areas that needs urgent intervention by the incoming government in a 5-point agenda, Akinseye-George said: “Let me seize this opportunity to make some remarks on some contemporary challenges facing the country.
“The recent elections and need for genuine national reconciliation. The recent elections were highly divisive. They have reopened old wounds and rekindled primordial and parochial tendencies which may endanger our democracy, if not carefully addressed. The country needs a national healing and reconciliation process must begin in ernest.
“In my humble view all the political parties may be held liable for some infractions of the electoral law or the other. Like the proverbial case of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, the only person permitted by the Lord to accuse and hurl a stone at the woman is the person who has not committed any sin.
“While the politicians have started reconciling and mending fences, many Intellectuals and professionals unfortunately have continued the destructive social media crossfire of abuses which deepen polarization along ethnic divides.
“In our humble view, one of the major lessons of the recent General Elections is that Rotation of elective offices must no longer be left to the whims and caprices of politicians. The practice of electing political officers by Rotation must be entrenched in the Constitution. Our Centre intends to work with like-minded Nigerians to propose amendments to the Constitution on Rotation of major political offices at all levels. All Zones, and sections of this country and of every state and every community must be given a sense of belonging as equal owners of the Nigerian space. Hopelessness breeds desperation. Every community must have the hope that one day it will be their turn to produce the President, Governor, Senator, etc.
“The country may begin with the idea of one president and six vice Presidents, one per geo political zone. One Governor and three deputies, one per Senatorial Zone. Other details will be worked out in a Bill for Constitutional amendment which shall be tabled before the National Assembly”.
On the side of justice, the CSLS President said: “The persistent problem of delay of justice
The problem of delay of justice is the mother of criminality which in turn breed impunity.
“Therefore, the in-coming government must take urgent action to reduce the problem of delay in justice delivery. As an immediate step, it should consider urgently filling the vacancies in the Appellate courts, introducing technology to do away with the archaic system of manual writing by judges, abolishing de novo trials, improve the working conditions of judges and prescribing a maximum timeline for the conclusion of court cases. Such time limits should not be limited to only Election cases. These and other urgent measures are needed to restore the hope of the common man in the justice system,” the statement reads in part.
While declaring the event open, FCT Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf ably represented by Hon. Justice Sylvester Oriji charged the young Lawyers to be proactive and follow the steps of successful senior Lawyers in the society, he encourage them that they have find themselves in the best profession all over the world.
Justice Oriji also comment on the work load in the court, the poor working environment and the need to digitize court process for optimal delivery of justice.