The European Union (EU) has affirmed its commitment in support of Nigeria’ s effort for justice sector reforms in Nigeria, as well as strengthening President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign.
To this end, the EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, said they will be financing this through a €23.3 million (N10 billion) for the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.
Karlsen who was represented by Mr. Kurt Cornelis at the launch of a Four Year RoLAC progamme in Abuja on Tuesday, said criminal justice reform and the fight against corruption are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
He noted that this is coming at a time that corruption and an ineffective justice system undermines Nigeria’s efforts at economic and social development and fighting poverty.
He said the Programme, which is funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Progamme will consolidate on the achievements of the 10th EDF projects of; Support to the Nigerian Justice Sector (2013 to 2017) and Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (2013 to 2017).
According Karlsen, RoLAC aligns with the Nigerian government’s commitment to fighting against corruption, reforming the criminal justice system, and increasing access to justice for women, children and people with disabilities.
He said the programme will be implemented by the British Council at the federal level and in four states of Adamawa, Anambra, Kano and Lagos.
He said, “corruption is both a cause and a driver of poor governance and performance of the criminal justice system. As at the time a strong Nigerian criminal justice sector, able to dispense timely and effective justice would strengthen the fight against corruption as incentives to engage in corrupt practices are reduced”.
The Programme Director at the British Council, Dr. Bob Arnot said the approach is “not to bring predetermined solutions but to work in collaboration with Nigerian states and non-state actors to develop and implement sustainable initiatives that will build upon and consolidate the success of the EU’s previous support to Nigeria in the justice and anti-corruption sector under the 10th EDF”.
He said that the British Council’s long experience in Niger in the sector will also be brought to bear to ensure the successful completion of all interventions.
Launching the programme on behalf of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubkar Malami, the Director, International Comparative Law Department in the Ministry, Mrs. Stella Anukam appreciated both E and the British Council for rolling out the programme aiming at strengthening the nation’s judicial reformation strategies.
“We at the Federal Ministry of Justice applaud your immense contributions and efforts. We reaffirm our commitment to you on this laudable programme. I am happy that it has been branded Nigerian programme”, she said.
She called for total commitment on the part of all stakeholders towards the implementation of the programme and expressed hope that the four component of the programme with a total of 19 outputs will be fully achieved at the end of four years.
She presented the work plan for the RoLAC Programme to both EU and British Council officials.
Hon Justice Jude Okeke who represented the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court at the event said the Court which has been in the forefront in the fight against corruption and support for the administration of criminal justice will always ensure that justice within the jurisdiction of the court is dispensed on time.
The Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli said the programmes fall within the purview of the Agency’s mandate of securing justice for the vulnerable group like women and children, stressing that the programme is coming at the right time.
The Women Affairs Minister, Hajia Aisha Alhassan represented by her Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ifeoma Anagbogu commended the sponsor of the programme for involving the Ministry in the role out the project which will increase access to justice for women, children and people with disabilities.
She said the programme will add to the all-inclusive approach to seek justice for the vulnerable group.
Representing the four focus states, the Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of Kano State, Ibrahim Mukhtar appreciated the EU for considering them for states. He said RoLAC will tremendously impact positively on the judicial system of the concerned states.
He promised a full cooperation of the four states in the implementation process.