DFID’s justice for all programme: Six years after by Walter Duru, Ph.d

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Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 is a popular passage in the Holy Bible that deals with the cyclical nature of life and says that there is time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: “a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a
time to kill and a time to heal…”
The above is a perfect consolation for many, who queried the closure of the Justice for All (J4A) programme of the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). For most  stakeholders, the programme should not have ended, or at least, not at
this time.
At the close-out event of the programme held at Chelsea Hotel, Abuja recently, Nigerians, in emotion-laden tones, poured encomiums on the programme and the Dr. Bob Arnot-led management team, for effectively driving the programme and achieving its overall objective. The fact that citizens, particularly, stakeholders in the areas of focus actively participated in the programme makes it exceptional.
My heart was gladdened at that moment Nigeria’s acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo pledged that Nigeria will “institutionalize J4A’s initiatives and programmes.”
From speaker after speaker, the programme earned an all – round distinction, with no dissenting views. The popular question at the
event was: why must J4a end now? Never in the history of donor
experience in Nigeria has this level of endorsement been witnessed.
In his remarks, Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo
expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom Government for sustaining
its support to the country, even as he lauded the implementation of
the Justice for All (J4A) programme, saying that it has shaped the
Justice Sector reforms of Nigeria. He also described the programme as
well thought-out and impactful.
Speaking through his Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye, he urged the United
Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID)
not to relent in its support to good governance and justice sector
reforms in Nigeria.
“The J4A programme is well-thought out. Its effects are being felt.
What we are working on now is to ensure that the initiatives of the
programme are institutionalized in our systems. The J4A model is what
we are following in our police reforms today. The Case Management and
Information Communication Technology (ICT) in use today in the justice
sector is a J4A initiative. We need to ensure that it is adopted in
every part of the country. J4A supported the Police Complaint Response
Unit and today, they are achieving results.”
Speaking on sustainability, the Vice President stressed: “I hope the
closure of the J4A will not be the end of support to the laudable
initiatives.”
He commended the J4A team, led by Dr. Bob Arnot for what he described
as their outstanding performance, urging them not to relent in their
service to the nation.
Adding his voice, Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee
against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye was full of
praises for the J4A programme, describing it as exemplary.
“It supported a whole range of measures in the area of economic
justice, notably the improvement of service delivery in commercial
courts. Starting with a baseline survey on the progress of cases in
commercial courts; needs assessment of those courts, capacity building
for judges who preside over the courts, infrastructure support to
improve service delivery such as the furnishing of the Fast Track
Court Registry and the monthly progress monitoring. Lagos Judiciary
improved incrementally from one level to another.”
“To ensure this worked seamlessly and is sustainable, the judiciary
created a separate registry to fast track cases with the encouragement
and financial support of J4A.”
Continuing, he gave credit for the early achievements recorded by the
PACAC Committee to the support it got from the J4A programme.
“J4A recognized the importance of co-ordination and co-operation
amongst justice sector institutions. It thus supported the creation of
a platform through which regular engagement and interaction could talk
place. This initiative in my view is a major legacy. I can say this
now because PACAC borrowed from this model by recommending to
government a high level inter-agency platform for conversation on the
anti-corruption issue. J4A, without doubt, has been of immense benefit
to Nigeria in all of the thematic areas of focus.”
In his presentation on: J4A: The Journey, Achievements, Experiences,
Lessons and Legacy, Portfolio Lead for Justice Security and Conflict
in Sub Saharan Africa for the British Council, Dr. Bob Arnot explained
that the programme was organized around four components: Policing and
Security; Justice, Anti-Corruption and Cross-Sector Coordination.
Speaking on the scope and methodology, Arnot explained: “the programme
worked at federal level plus five focal states (Lagos, Kano, Kaduna,
Enugu, and Jigawa) and FCT. Models based upon best practice were to be
replicated, disseminated and sustained; working in the formal and
informal sectors.”
He further explained that the ultimate aim of the programme was to
create: “a more capable, accountable, responsive and integrated
justice sector that is fair, equitable and accessible with sustainable
reform momentum, creating growing user confidence and respect amongst
Nigerians.”
On successes recorded by the Policing component, Arnot, a former
National Programme Manager of the J4A, enumerated them to include:
“Work in 7 states affected 44.8 million people by introducing
Community-based Policing (CBP) in Model Police Stations (MPS);
introduced 12 modern police stations with 177 interventions and 645
replications; engaged with more than 100 police divisions and trained
over 5000 Police officers.”
“J4A states citizen’s satisfaction with police up from 40% in 2011 to
59% in 2012; a total of 776 VPS leaders trained in leadership skills
and over 1000 operatives have been trained in conflict management
skills.”
In the Justice component, Arnot explained: “J4A worked with 26 pilot
Magistrates, Sharia and Customary Courts in 3 states (disposal time
reduced by 30%) equal to saving over 900,000 days in court. Since
2012, nearly 1,400 Traditional Rulers in two states have been trained
on human rights, dispute resolution and record keeping. It is
estimated that over 400,000 citizens will have benefited from the
traditional rulers’ enhanced skills.”
Speaking on achievements by the anti-corruption component, he said:
“The EFCC, ICPC and CCB now have strategic plans being implemented to
direct their longer term work; J4A supported the EFCC and ICPC to
investigate, prosecute and recover the assets of corrupt persons. By
March 2016, assets worth over 210 Billion Naira had been recovered.
Over 700 anti-corruption agency operatives have been trained in
investigative and prosecutorial skills. J4A training modules now
delivered by anti-corruption agencies (ACA) Trainers and key
anti-corruption legislation developed.” The above was confirmed by the
Secretary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Emmanuel
Aremu Adegboyega, while speaking at the close-out event.
Continuing, Arnot stressed that: “Reformed Anti-Corruption
Transparency Units (ACTUs) are now in 427 Ministries, Departments and
Agencies (MDAs); Inter-agency cooperation and exchange of intelligence
have been improved. Civil society groups and coalitions have been
supported to increase oversight of the anti-corruption agencies and
the government’s work on anti-corruption, as well as increased
advocacy on stalled high profile corruption cases by Media/Civil
Society actors through the Reporting Until Something Happens (RUSH)
initiative.
On cross-sector successes, J4A developed Justice Sector Reform Teams
(JSRT) that are today adopted and in use at all levels of government
in Nigeria. Other donor agencies in Nigeria have also adopted same.
Twenty four (24) JSRTs are in place and functioning; one hundred and
ninety three (193) justice reform initiatives implemented by JRTs;
with 138 achieving desired outcomes; duration in custody of awaiting
trial persons (ATPs) down by 30% in two pilot states; 429 indigent
Awaiting Trial Prisoners (ATPs) offered pro bono legal services under
the CH Scheme and Clearing House being rolled out across Nigeria by
LACON.
J4A played a key role in the passage of the Administration of Criminal
Justice Act (ACJ) and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act
(VAPP). They supported the implementation of the ACJ in Lagos and
Anambra states. They continued to support advocacy for the passage of
other relevant bills, prominent among which are: the Proceeds of
Crime, Whistle Blowers and Witness Protection (Public Interest
Reporting and Witness Protection), Money Laundering, Nigeria Financial
Intelligence Centre, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters bills,
among others, which are making steady progress at the National
Assembly. Some of them have already been passed by the Senate, while
others have reached advanced stages in the legislative process. Worthy
of note is the fact that they were all passed by the 7th National
Assembly, but were not assented to, following the change in power;
hence, their reintroduction.
On civil society engagement, J4A’s shoes are too big for any other
donor-funded programme in Nigeria to step in. One can only hope and
pray that other donors will attempt to get close to, match or surpass
the J4A record. J4A engaged with more than 100 Civil Society
Organisations (CSOs), which made 144 direct contributions to justice
sector policy and practice and influenced change on 79 particular
occasions. Forty four (44) grants awarded, valued at, over eight
hundred million Naira (N800M/ over £3.1M). Twenty seven (27) grants
have gender element.
Realising the need for the programme to be Nigerian-led, J4A elevated
one of its component managers, a renowned development expert, Danladi
Plang to the position of a National Programme Manager. This step
further deepened the peoples’ confidence in the programme and
strengthened engagement.
Expressing gratitude for the overall success of J4A, the National
Programme Manager, Danladi Plang outlined the programme’s achievements
in providing justice for victims of sexual violence in the country.
“What we have tried to do is to provide justice for victims of sexual
violence and their families. We did three major things in this regard.
One is to provide facilities where victims can go and be treated;
either by providing medication or counselling. The treatment is free
of charge. Second, we increased the level of awareness of people on
sexual violence. Next is in the area of training and capacity
development for all stakeholders.”
One other name at the centre of the programme’s success is Emmanuel
Uche, anti-corruption component Manager. His ingenuity was all that
was needed in difficult situations. At every stage of implementation,
he displayed exceptional mastery of issues and problem-solving skills.
He is the brain behind most of the successes recorded by the
anti-corruption component, adjudged by many as the most successful in
the programme.
He did not fail to express his joy with the success of the programme. Hear him:
“I am happy that the programme is a huge success. We have made the
anti-corruption agencies more responsive and capable. Their level of
engagement is back to the early days of their existence. We have
supported government by strengthening institutional mechanisms of the
anti-corruption agencies. We also strengthened the voice of the
citizens. The J4A approach is holistic and has left a mark in the
sands of history.”
Another name that cannot be left out in the success story of the J4a
is Juliet Chikodinaka Ibekaku, Special Adviser to the Nigerian
President on Justice Sector Reforms. From the inception of the
programme, till its end, her contributions were enormous.
Those conversant with the Police component know that Professor Olu
Ogunsakin, a renowned Professor of Police Affairs worked tirelessly
and made the component successful.
What manner of programme is J4A, that even other donor programmes and
agencies relish at the mention of the name? The answer is not
far-fetched, as success has many friends, while failure is an orphan.
Even civil society organisations, naturally known for being critical
of issues hailed the programme. Hear some of the stakeholders speak:
David Ugolor, Executive Director, African Network for Environment and
Economic Justice- ANEEJ, described the J4A as a huge success and
worthy of emulation by others in the sector.
Emeka Ononamadu, Executive Director, Citizens Centre for Integrated
Development and Social Rights and the Chairman, Publish What You Pay
(PWYP) expressed satisfaction with the programme and its
implementation and passed a vote of confidence on the management team.
Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption – MIIVOC
described the J4A programme and its achievements as legendary, but
wondered why it must be brought to an end at a time, when its impact
is being felt and is yielding immeasurable results.
Little wonder, Enugu State governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi called for
an immediate successor programme to continue with the noble works of
the J4A.
Another proof of its success is that some other donor agencies have
approached the J4A to hand over their on-going intervention programmes
to them to take over their implementation. For a donor, whose
programme is already being implemented to approach the J4A team to
take over the management and implementation of their programme is
further evidence that there is a silent consensus in the donor
community that the J4A leads, while others follow.
The entry of J4A to the implementation of Nigeria’s Freedom of
Information (FOI) Act made a huge difference. Today, the compliance
level of public institutions with the provisions of the FOI Act has
increased tremendously. Citizens’ demand for accountability using the
FOI Act has also increased, courtesy of the J4A.
Be that as it may, the programme, having been designed by men, was not
infallible. It had some shortcomings that took the ingenuity and
creativity of the team to overcome.
First, it had a funding mechanism that was a little inflexible. This
did not help issues at all.
Again, the programme did not make adequate provisions for sustained
structured support to Civil Society. This is a major minus. Save for
the creativity of the management team, it would not have been easy.
More so, the programme did not have a professionally-designed and
robust communication strategy as part of the programme design, made
worse by the absence of budgetary provisions for publicity and
communication. The fact that the J4A enjoyed the level of visibility
and media hype it has, however, is a testimony that it is an all-round
success.
While Nigerians patiently await successor programmes, particularly,
one which focuses on anti-corruption, not keeping the J4A team intact
will be a grievous mistake, as it is rare to have an excellently
progressive team in any given organisation.
Again, whatever new programme that is to be designed should have a
robust communication strategy that will build on the successes of the
J4A to deepen engagement, create understanding, effectively explain
the issues, programmes, activities and policies of the programme and
ensure proactive communication with stakeholders and indeed, the
world. It is outlandish to hold on to the belief that donors rarely
spend on publicity. The success or failure of every human endeavour
rests on effective and ideal communication.
More so, there is need to ensure a deliberate strategy for sustained
structured support to civil society and other relevant stakeholders.
Particular interest must also be shown in activities aimed at holding
the anti-corruption agencies themselves accountable. As at today, no
one is watching those empowered to watch Nigerians and there has to be
a way of closing the gap.
Furthermore, there is need for some flexibility in the funding
mechanism of programmes in order to cope with emergency situations in
the course of programme implementation. Political sensitivity is also
very important for the success of donor-funded programmes.
Unlike the proverbial lizard that jumped from a multi–storey without
any acclaim, J4A is leaving several enduring legacies and all and
sundry have poured out encomiums on DFID and British Council for a job
very well done. Posterity will always remember you and you deserve to
be celebrated.
Pop Champagne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dr. Walter Duru is a Port Harcourt and Owerri – based communication
teacher, professional and online Publisher. He is the Chairman, Board
of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria.
walterchike@gmail.com

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