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Anti-corruption: Stakeholders berate FG over poor funding of ACJ Monitoring C’ttee

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•FCT Chief Judge commends opening of ACJMC Secretariat

Godsgift Onyedinefu

The stakeholders in Nigeria’s anti-corruption drive have urged President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government  to step up its funding of the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC) so as to strengthen its capacity.

The Secretary of ACJMC,  Mr. Obla Okon Obla, made this call at the formal opening of the ACJMC Secretariat in Abuja facilitated by the British Council-Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme and funded by European Union.

Obla lamented that lack of funding from the Federal Government, has been detrimental to the anti-corruption war, ACJMC mandate and effective justice system in Nigeria.

He noted that the Committee since it was established in 2016 has been starved of any budgetary provision, thereby affecting the effective monitoring and application of the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Act.

“The Committee was inaugurated in February 2016 but could not take off because of lack of budgetary provision in 2015, 2016 and 2017. This made it difficult to recruit staff and others but we have been receiving assistance from international organisations. But this Committee have to be supported to carry out its functions. Most of the challenges we have in the application of the ACJ Act is the lack of funding from the Federal Government,” he said.

Also speaking, the Chairman of ACJMC and Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice IU Bello said the Secretariat became imperative in order to provide decent offices for staff from where their activities can be coordinated.

Bello who was represented by Justice O.O Goodluck also underscored the importance of ACJMC, which was the creation of Section 469 of ACJA (2015) with a membership that cuts across major players in the criminal trial process including the Court, the Police, Prisons, National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Legal Aide Counsel and Civil Society.

“The Committee creates an avenue for co-ordination of efforts under the Act by ensuring that there exists maximum cooperation amongst the organisations by sharing information and submitting quarterly, reports to the Chief Justice of Nigeria to keeping His Lordship abreast of developments towards upward criminal justice delivery for necessary action,” he said.

The Chief Justice also commended RoLAC, British Council and European Union including their past contributions by a variety of other projects, by which they “showed considerable commitment to the administration of justice with particular reference to fast tracking criminal trials, eliminating delays and build capacity of support staff”.

In the same vein, the National Programme Manager, RoLAC, Mr. Danladi Phlang, said the Secretariat will serve as a reference point in the issues pertaining to ACJ.

He however, appealed to the Federal Government to support their efforts by ensuring that the structure is well maintained and put to good use.

Apart from the Chief Judge of the FCT, other dignitaries at the opening include: Chief Judge Federal High Court, the Chief Registrar FCT High court, the DG Legal Aid Council, Controller Prisons, the Secretary of the ACJMC, among others.

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