Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Adolphus Karibe-Whyte and stakeholders in the justice sector, have charged players in the judiciary sector to strive towards speedy dispensation of criminal cases in the country.
The charge was given at a symposium on Speeding Up Criminal Litigation in Nigeria, organized by the Initiative for Socio-Cultural Fairness and Equity (FISE) in conjunction with Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) Africa Alliance Partnership, which held in Abuja.
In an address, Osinbajo urged players in the judiciary to always follow the rules of the court in handling criminal matters to avoid delay, adding that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 was passed into law purposely to avoid unnecessary delay in the trial of criminal and corruption cases.
Osinbajo, who was represented by Prof Bolaji Owasanoye of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) however, lamented that the ACJA so far has not lived fully to expectations.
He identified the absence of a case management as been the clog in the wheel of speedy dispensation of justice in the country, stressing that the tool is not just aimed at speeding up trial but ensuring that cases are concluded and justice is served.
He said if all ministers in the temple of justice imbibe the principle of case management, it will put an end to impunity as the system ensures that those found guilty are sent to jail and those found to be innocent are freed on time.
Osibanjo said an improved justice system would not only inspire confidence in the legal system but would attract foreign investment into the country.Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion and a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Adolphus Karibe-Whyte attributed the delay of criminal trials to tactics of some lawyers.
He stated that lawyers, especially those on the defence 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 before hand with all the issues about the case that may derail or cause delays of the trial.
Also speaking, Director, CWAG AAP, Markus Green, who noted that the judicial system is key to moving litigation forward emphasized the role of training for judicial officers.He said the symposium, which is aimed at improving justice delivery in Nigeria is in line with CWAG AAP’s mandate of promoting the rule of law and international cooperation.