As a way of building public confidence in the nation’s criminal justice system, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday called on stakeholders in the judiciary to strive towards speedy dispensation of criminal cases in the country.
The Vice President said that, it is with the view to avoiding unnecessary delay in the trial of criminal and corruption cases that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 was passed into law and urged players in the judiciary to always follow the rules of the court in the handling of criminal matters to avoid delay.
The Vice President, who was represented by Prof Bolaji Owasanoye of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) stated this in a keynote address at a symposium on, “Speeding Up Criminal Litigation in Nigeria,” organised by the Initiative for Socio-Cultural Fairness and Equity, in collaboration with the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) held in Abuja yesterday.
According to Osinbajo, ACJA 2015 was designed to check delay in criminal trials, adding that the underlying principle of case management is justice, by ensuring that those who are guilty are sent to jail and those found to be innocent are freed on time.
Osibanjo stressed the need for the enforcement of the criminal laws so as to inspire confidence in the legal system of the country.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion and a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte attributed the delay of criminal trials to tactics of some lawyers.
The retired jurist said lawyers, especially those on the defense are fond of asking for adjournments in the hearing of cases over flimsy reasons and urged Judges to stop granting adjournment when there is no need for it.
He said the introduction of Plea and Case Management Hearing (PCMH) will help in the management of criminal litigation and sentencing in the country and added that the purpose of the PCMH is to enable the court to deal beforehand with all the issues about the case that may derail or cause delays of the trial.
Meanwhile, Prof Bolaji, while exchanging views with newsmen said his committee has supported the anti-corruption agencies in developing strategy manual that helps them to prepare their cases very well and to ensure that only cases that are ripe that should be taken to court.
He said corruption cases have terrible negative effects on the system and called on both members of the Bar and the Bench to ensure best practices in the interest of the country.
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