NTREC 2023: Fill Vacant Positions At Appeal And Supreme Court, Digitalize Court System — CSLS President, Prof Akinseye-George, SAN, Tell Govt

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Daily Metro News NG

The President of Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, has said there is urgent need for government at various levels to fill the vacant positions at both Appeal and Supreme Courts in the country.

The Legal Icon, who is the Senior Partner of Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN and partners, Abuja, made the appeal during the closing ceremony of the National Technical Review & Evaluation Conference (NTREC 2023) on the Implementation of the ACJA/ ACJL across the federation in Abuja.

Akinseye-George, SAN, also solicit for the digitalization of court proceedings for easy process and conformation to 21st century process. He said; “Digitalization of the court system – all states should urgently take steps to introduce e-recording in the administration of justice.”

Below is the full text of CSLS President unedited:

Remarks by Prof Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, President Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) at the Closing Ceremony of the National Technical Review & Evaluation Conference on the Implementation of the ACJA/ ACJL held from 16-17th February 2023 at the TMP, Abuja.

I wish to begin by expressing our profound gratitude to you all for your attendance and excellent participation at this Conference which started yesterday.

We are elated that 34 of the 36 states of the Federation are represented at this conference. Two states were absent because of travel difficulties.

The current cash crunch experienced by Nigerians as a result of the change in the national currency has disrupted many activities across the country. That notwithstanding, most of you have traveled from all over the country to participate in this conference. This shows your resolve and commitment to bringing about improvements in the criminal justice system.

We thank the Hon Chief Judges and Attorneys General of the various states for sending the participants. In particular we thank my Lord, Hon Justice Kazeem Zanah, the Hon. Chief Judge of Borno State, for making time out of his extremely busy schedule to participate in this conference. The insightful interventions by his Lordship have raised the profile of the Conference. All other Chief Judges in the country are kindly enjoined to continue to champion the reform of criminal justice administration.

The major resolutions of this include but not limited to:

  1. All the States of the Federation and the FCT are commended for passing the Administration of Criminal Justice law. They should go further to ensure that the laws are properly implemented to provide improved access to justice to all Nigerians.
  2. The States should adopt the National Minimum Standards (NMS) on the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Laws. We are delighted to present to all the States through their delegates at this Conference the National Minimum Standard (NMS) Document.
  3. The document is a product of the collaborative efforts of different stakeholders of the justice sector in the last few years.
  4. It articulates the basic standards that must be met by all States and the FCT in implementing the ACJ ACT and ACJ Laws.
  5. The gains recorded since 2015 when the ACJA was introduced should be sustained, consolidated and improved upon through compliance with the National Minimum Standards.
  6. The Administration of Criminal Justice Committees (ACJMCs) should be strengthened and provided the necessary resources needed to carry out their functions.
  7. Digitalization of the court system – all states should urgently take steps to introduce e-recording in the administration of justice.The National Judicial Council should immediately set a specific deadline for the courts to commence e-recording of all proceedings. The writing of court proceedings in long hand has become outdated and should therefore be replaced with e-recording.
  8. All states should recruit more lawyers to take over the prosecution of all cases from lay prosecutors.
  9. Investigators, prosecutors, magistrates and judges must be motivated, given the necessary resources, incentives and training to perform optimally their statutory functions.
  10. This administration must urgently finalize, publish and commence implementation of the promised new salary structure, enhanced working conditions and retirement benefits of judges.
  11. All available vacancies in the various courts particularly the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court must be filled urgently.
  12. Criminality including corruption is increasing in our country because wrong doing is not promptly punished. Delay in the administration of justice often leads to denial of justice. The same urgency with which election matters are decided by the courts must be extended to all other cases including criminal cases.
  13. Effective case management must be the standard operating procedure of our courts.
  14. Access to justice is not a luxury but a basic good that must be guaranteed all citizens including the vulnerable persons.
  15. The provision of legal Aid and advice for indigent persons must be improved.
  16. Witness protection and assistance are indispensable to effective criminal justice administration.

The CSLS is proud to present the National Scorecard or ranking of the various states in regard to their compliance with the National Minimum Standards in the Administration of Criminal Justice.

Insert the states and their scores here:

Category A States (70% and above)

Category B States (50-69%)

Category C States (40-59%).

We appeal to the states to take urgent measures to improve their scores or ranking by deliberately addressing the weaknesses in their criminal justice system.

We thank the media for their support for the National Minimum Standards Process. We also thank our development partners particularly the MacArthur Foundation and ROLAC for their support for the criminal justice system.

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