Summit on Justice: Stakeholders Adopt “National Policy of Justice”

CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen

The two day  National Summit on Justice which commenced in Abuja on Tuesday has ended with wider stakeholders in the judiciary adopting  and validating a 39-page document; “National Policy of Justice”

The document which has 17 themes,  among other things includes; Justice and national security, speedy dispensation of justice, protection and promotion of human rights, access to justice, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and the Independence of the judiciary.

Other themes include legal and regulatory framework for commencement of economic activities, supporting fair, credible and violent electoral process and compliance with treaty obligations.

The challenges and strategic interventions on each of the thematic points were highlighted in the policy, which was adopted yesterday.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the closing session on Thursday, said the lofty goals of having a smooth and efficient justice system primarily depends on the synergy of critical stakeholders in the nation’s judiciary.

Justice Onnoghen, who was represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Odili,  stressed the need to streamline the rules of procedure in the courts in a bid to reduce delays in the disposal of cases as “justice delayed is justice denied.”

The CJN explained, however, that uniformity may not be achieved in the justice system in view of the country’s diverse religious and cultural backgrounds and added that the goal should be to achieve and ensure fair play and equity without burying justice at the altar of technicalities.

Justice Onnoghen said: “The above goals albeit lofty can only be achieved by having all key players in the justice system on board and actively participating to ensure that these lofty aims are achieved.”

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Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, in a keynote address he delivered on the occasion, said, there was a unanimous agreement that the administration of justice in Nigeria requires “serious reforms.”

Saraki, represented by Senator David Umaru, said efficient justice delivery was central to the nation’s socioeconomic development.

In his own remarks, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said:  “The National Policy on Justice provides a blueprint which outlines the various reforms desirable in the justice sector to engender smooth, fair, just and transparent administration of justice in the country.”

According to Malami, the policy would provide the needed professional guidance for all justice sector institutions in the discharge of their duties and the attainment of an “effective and efficient” administration of justice.

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