With the signing into law of the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill, Jigawa State is set for the implementation of a new criminal justice system.
The state government had on June 27, signed the bill into law. The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Mac-Arthur project held a public forum on the implementation of the project in Dutse, the state capital.
The public forum was part of the mandate of the NBA-MacArthur project to ensure the domestication and implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 across all states in Nigeria.
At the public forum, the Project Coordinator, Victor Abasiakan-Ekim, who represented the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) reeled out the importance of ACJA in the Criminal Justice System while other states that were yet to adopt the law to do so.
According to him, it is very important that the state makes available copies of the law to the general public for better appreciation and understanding of the law.
He reiterated that ACJA was geared towards ensuring that the system of administration of criminal justice in Nigeria promotes efficient management of all criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice, and protection of the rights and interests of suspects and victims of crime.
He said: ‘’ACJA will fall short of its potential if it only remains a federal law. In view of the need for uniformity, clarity, and better administration of justice throughout the country, it is essential for state to adopt this law.”
He noted that the successful passage and subsequent assent of Administration of Criminal Justice bill into law by the Jigawa State Government on June 27 marked a new beginning, indeed a watershed in criminal justice delivery in the state.
He said: “I have seen the Jigawa state ACJ law and is quite innovative, far sighted and will, without a doubt, promote access to justice. With the adoption of the law comes great responsibility of funding and infrastructural development.”
Mr Salman Rilwan of the Nigerian Law School, Kano Campus analysed the application of the two laws; the purpose of their enactment; their relationship with the CPA and the CPC and some other key areas of importance requiring special attention.
He gave the analysis a keynote paper with at theme, “The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Jigawa State, 2019: A Perspective on Some Key Areas in the Laws.”
On the relationship between the ACJA/ ACJL with the CPA and the CPC, he noted that there was confusion in some quarters as to whether or not the ACJA has brought about the unification of the criminal procedure laws in Nigeria which means that the CPA and the CPC are now completely dead and that the ACJA is now the applicable procedural law all over Nigeria.
“This position may not be unconnected with the perception of the provision of section 493 of the ACJA. The section provides: ‘The Criminal Procedure Act (CAP. C41 LFN 2004), Criminal Procedure (Northern States) Act Cap C42 LFN 2004 and the Administration of Justice Commission Act (CAP A3 LFN 2004) are repealed.”
He continued; “The true position of the law is that as far as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is concerned and as far as Federal Courts are concerned, the CPA and the other Acts mentioned in section 493 of the Act are no longer alive. But as far as the states are concerned, with the exception of Lagos, Kaduna and some other states that have amended their laws, including Jigawa now, whose new law is in the pipeline, the laws are still intact.
‘’The reason is obvious: the National Assembly only legislates for the federation
while the states’ houses of assembly make laws for the various states. By our federal structure, a law made by the National Assembly does not bind the states unless a state House of Assembly adopts same or unless where the item in respect of which the National Assembly made that law is in the Exclusive Legislative List.