The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke yesterday launched a new sentencing guidelines for use of the courts in the state.
The sentencing guidelines was signed by the chief judge as practice direction for magistrates and high court judges as part of justice sector reform.
The sentencing guidelines was intended to ensure uniformity in sentence and fines imposed for certain offences by magistrates in particular and forestall prison congestion.
Addressing the inaugural meeting of Justice Sector Reform Committee yesterday, Justice Oke pointed out that the vision of the Lagos State Judiciary under the present administration is to make speedy dispensation of Justice a hallmark of the judiciary and to improve on its reputation as a pace setter.
The chief judge noted that this can only be achieved through inter agency collaboration and cooperation of stakeholders.
She disclosed that a committee has also been set up to proffer practice direction for the use of the Administration of Criminal Law of Lagos State for the purpose of making the law more explicit for judges, magistrates and prosecutors.
She said the committee, aside from interventions in the pipeline, will evaluate initiatives such as adopting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in criminal trials, increase use of plea bargain to drastically reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial, front loading of evidence and restorative justice.
Oke emphasized the importance of an effective criminal justice system to the smooth running of the society saying that it is fundamental to the maintenance of law and order.
According to her, “any society with a sound criminal justice system enjoys rapid economic growth.
“Going forward, the Lagos state government is working towards building a citizen-centric criminal justice system for the purpose of ensuring efficient and effective justice delivery”, she said.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem explained that the essence of the inter-agency meeting is to ensure that they discuss periodically the challenges facing the criminal justice system and find practical solutions with a view of implementing same.
Kazeem said judges in the Criminal division, magistracy, the Police, Prisons, Ministry of Justice among others would participate in the discussion at the subcommittee level.