Justice and fair play for all Nigerians to benefit from new initiative – AGF Fagbemi

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Lateef Fagbemi, Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, has announced fresh efforts to ensure that all citizens can freely access justice and fair play.

A new judicial sector reform is to update most of the laws, including electoral laws, to make the new step possible.

During Thursday’s Abuja media briefing, the AGF announced that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Federal Ministry of Justice are organizing a new National Summit on the Justice sector. The summit will address all elements affecting the efficacy of Nigerian laws.

The AGF reports that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will start the National Summit in Abuja on April 24, 2024, to discuss pressing issues in the country’s justice system.

According to Fagbemi, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and the National Judicial Council (NJC) will be joining forces with the Federal Ministry of Justice to host the highly anticipated National Summit on Justice, which is scheduled to take place from April 24th to 25th, 2024.

Held at the Auditorium of the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja, the National Summit will focus on “Repositioning the Justice System: Constitutional, Statutory, and Operational Reforms for Access and Efficiency,” as stated by the Minister.

According to Fagbemi, the event would bring attention to the serious problems in Nigeria’s judicial system and provide the groundwork for reforms that will improve access to justice for all Nigerians.

According to him, the Summit would unite prominent Nigerians, including lawyers and specialists in the field, to address the common man’s access to justice by fostering open dialogue and creating workable solutions.

If we want justice in our country to be effective, equitable, and focused on the needs of the people, we need to take advantage of the chance that the National Summit on Justice gives us to do just that.

In a joint statement, the AGF and Minister of Justice announced that the Federal Ministry of Justice and the NBA had formed a Joint Planning Committee. The committee, which is chaired by Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, SAN, has brought together an impressive roster of speakers and panellists who will impart their vast wisdom, discuss current issues, and offer practical suggestions for how to improve the efficiency and accessibility of Nigeria’s justice system.

He went on to say that the summit’s keynote speaker, Dr. Willy Mutunga, EGH, is well-known in the field of law and politics. Mutunga was Kenya’s chief justice for a time and is remembered for his dedication to human rights and democratic values as well as the groundbreaking judicial reforms that occurred during his tenure.

A number of reforms, including a review of electoral laws and procedures in handling election-related cases, an overhaul of prison reforms, and improved access to justice for the average Nigerian will be addressed at the Summit, according to the Minister. The revised National Policy on Justice 2024–2028 will also be reviewed and adopted.

“This comprehensive policy document outlines a broad framework and initiatives in 17 thematic areas aimed at reforming the justice sector to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility to all Nigerians. It assures that justice is not just a privilege for the few, but a right for all,” he said.

To promote social cohesion, enhance economic development, and encourage good governance, the policy seeks to solve numerous difficulties within the legal framework.

He continued by saying that the Summit will discuss proposed laws that aim to fix certain problems in the justice system, such as the way judges are chosen, how the system is run, how much money the judiciary gets, how to speed up the justice system, how long it takes to decide on a case, how many cases end up in the Supreme Court, and how to cut down on the amount of time it takes to resolve.

To alleviate the workload of our esteemed Supreme Court justices, we plan to investigate the possibility that many cases will wind up in the court of appeals.

“These proposed laws are expected to serve as a catalyst for collective action and provide a guiding framework for relevant governmental institutions at both the national and sub-national levels to establish an effective, efficient, and people-centred justice system“.

“The Summit will present an opportunity for us to unite our efforts, leverage our collective expertise, and chart a course toward a more just and equitable society,” he said, emphasizing that Nigeria must not sit on its hands when faced with the challenges to the effective administration of justice for all citizens.

Fagbemi has voiced his desire for the National Summit on judicial to bring about much-needed reforms in the country’s judicial system, with the goal of creating a more equitable and effective system that respects and protects basic human rights.

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