PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT (ACJA) 2015
Price: 2000 Naira (BSC, MSC)
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This thesis examines the problems and prospects of administration of criminal justice and in particular the difficulties of applying and realising the purposes of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. This is because the Criminal Justice System is beguiled with behemoth of problems. The corollary has been a harvest of woes, impediments and denigration of human rights and derogation of societal values. Generally, it is in the interest of the public that wrong doings are punished and the interest of justice to uphold rights and give everyman his due. But when this purpose cannot be realised it has occasion the innocent man to be punished with the wrong doers thus, these interests, of justice and public, have therefore been contrived.
The Administration of Criminal Justice lay down the processes to be followed to punish or acquit an offender or an innocent suspect. The Nigerian Constitution provides that any person charge with a criminal offence has a right to be presumed innocent and a right of fair hearing in public within a reasonable time by a law court. So, to be held guilty on account of any act or omission, which amount to crime under the law, with punishment enforced, that is ordinarily not heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed, the person must be charged to court and found guilty as charged with the commission of the offence by court of law. If not, acquits him.
Yet, in recent times, there have been lots of complaints against the institutions in charge of administration criminal justice system, in Nigeria. These problems, some of which have been traced to criminal institutions and the law itself, are congestion of courts workloads, delay in dispensation of justice, abuse of the processes and inefficiency by the practitioners and/or law enforcement personnel, delay issuance of Attorney General‟s Copy of legal advice and prisons congestion. These necessitated the re-enactment of the law to possibly cure the ills complained of. Ideally the lawmakers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have a mandate to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof had to repeal the former criminal procedures and collapse them into one, which emerged as the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in (ACJA) 2015.
The preoccupation of this research is to evaluates the difficulties and projections of the ACJA particularly as it concerns it purposes which effectively guarantees access to justice, rule of law, humane treatment and dignity of suspect, defendant or victim and its quest to ensure, promote and make certain the efficient management of criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice in Nigeria and et cetera. Others are the protection of the society from crime and protection of the rights and interests of the suspect, the defendant, and the victim and ensure compliance with the provisions for the realization of those purposes in the system of administration of criminal justice.
1.1 Background to the Study
My lords, the inexcusable delay in our justice delivery system is a concern to me and it must be to your lordships. “Concern” is perhaps a euphemistic description, can find for a most scandalously embarrassing situation where a simple case of breach of contract will endure for five or more years in the court of first instance, and, last for fifteen years before final determination in our Apex Court. The position is even worse and more pathetic in criminal cases, particularly when the accused person who enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence until proved otherwise and who stands the chance of an acquittal in the end is in the meantime, kept in custody.2
The assertion, above, remained a penetrating call for assistance, made by no other person than a former president of Nigeria. It may as well be seen as an indictment on the justice delivery mechanism controlled by justice administration in the country which may have been on top burner of previous administrations. More so, and perhaps because Chief Obasanjo had once passed through the base of the criminal justice system; during his incarceration for the 1995 purported coup under the Abacha Regime. It is in the open knowledge that cases, civil or criminal, take forever before they are ever concluded either at the trial or appellate courts. Notwithstanding this, there are many other incalculable twists and chances position to obstruct the steering wheel of justice administration and distribution in Nigeria. These systemic disappointments have had the fates of countless citizens hanging in the balance.
It goes without mentioning that innumerable conferences, discussions and explanations must have been held to no resolution that these teething troubles will be evaded anytime soon. In one of those meeting Justice Muktar Abimbola3observed that:
On the average, it takes 22 years to conclude a case up to the Supreme Court, while it is not uncommon to take between 5 and 10 years for judgments to be entered in the High Courts because of the problems inherent in the administration of criminal justice.4
At least these arguments can be confirmed in the following cases of; Ariori v. Elemo5 where it took twenty years for the case to reach the Supreme Court and was set de novo. In Edet Effiom v. the State,6 it took ten years while Al-Mustapha Hamzat v. The State,7 where the defendant/appellant was arrested on October 1998, the matter went up unto appeal in year 2013 and when it concluded at the Court of Appeal it was exactly15 years. In recent times, the likes of Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd), the former National Security Adviser (NSA) to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led administration, alleged to have misappropriated $2.1 billion meant for procurement of firearms to prosecute the Boko Haram insurgency, arrested on 29th December, 20158 is still in detention and the trial has not begun and Mr Kanu, the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB). This demonstrates that the criminal justice administration in the country needs to be position in a better standing9
It is on this ostensible ineptitude that a plethora of questions rise on why will it take such a long time to terminate cases in this clime? Or what has been done on the systemic problems connected with criminal justice administration in the country? And whether with the advent of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (hereinafter „the ACJA‟) 2015 those characteristic problems are remediable?
Sincerely, the upper most tasks after economy in any country is how to achieve a semblance of stability, legal justice and social order, through law.10 It is not as if there are no other mechanisms of reaching these objectives only that this method is most reasonable under modern realities. In lieu of being deprived of stability of any kind nations have from time immemorial endeavoured in various ways to encourage order and discourage deviancy. This is devise in the form of rules and regulations. Others remain the customs, traditions, taboos or norms which to an extent are the vestiges characteristic of any system. Hence, as civilisation envelopes the world, countries have advanced these beliefs into policies and laws, through instituted authorities11 in order to achieve those goals.12
In this disposition, it became a fundamental policy drive of enlighten countries to have laws constituted. These constituted laws some of which are organic, in that they serve as the fountain from which other laws draw their being, stay and existence, lay down the legal system or the practice and procedure which other laws deriving therefrom make provisions to be followed, particularly in criminal procedure, when a person is alleged to have committed an offence. It also provided arrest, charge, trial, conviction or, acquittal, sentencing, and not satisfied with trial, appeals. The constitution may express the above in basics and provide for a body to administer on the basics.13 It also empowers the legislature to make laws in the regard of any of its provisions.14 Consequently the criminal procedures15 that were repealed and modernized as the ACJA 2015, by the National Assembly follow that order.
Previously, these two principal enactments governed criminal procedure in the country. These were the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA)16 and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).17 The CPA was enacted in 1945 as law of general application throughout Nigeria up to attainment of political independence on October 1, 1960. It then ceased to be applicable to the whole country as a result of controversy from Northern Nigerian that it was more Judaeo-Christian as against their Moslem background. Reasonably, its use was restricted to the southern parts of the country while the CPC was enacted and it became the applicable law of criminal procedure for the northern parts of the country. With the supplementary division of Nigeria18into states from Regions, the consecutive states according to their divide adopted the enactment that was most appropriate to the territory prior the creation. At the moment, there are thirty six states and a Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja in Nigeria.19 The southern states being 17 in number operate the now rested CPA as state laws and the 19 northern states operate the CPC including the FCT, Abuja.20 It is hoped that with the advent the ACJA various states may possibly adopt it as state laws, if not already done.
What is more, the criminal procedure of this country is a technical law that regulates all the procedures of criminal trials and criminal justice institutions that is referred to administration of criminal justice system. In the United States of America (USA) it is referred to the Criminal Justice Department or Justice Department Crime Division. This system includes the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the prison department and other bodies like the Human Right Commission and the Legal Aids Council. Albeit, the police, the court and the prisons are the core institutions in the management of criminal justice administration; the others are ancillary and a fall out from the conduct of the above.
Customarily, criminal justice administration exemplifies the interplay between the legislature; judiciary and the executive arms of government. This is the responsibility of all involve to see to it vitality. It is poignantly so because the system has been as bastardised as the criticisms increase, which made Mahmoud to argued and remarked that:
It can no longer be disputed that our criminal justice system is in a state of malfunction. It is doubtful that any person can pass through the system as a suspect or offender without his/her human and other constitutional rights being violated. In all likelihood, his right will be violated at every stage of the criminal justice process, from arrest, detention, trial and punishment. It seems to be the unwritten law that the indignities, the suffering inflicted on suspects before and during their trial is part of the deterrence in our criminal justice process.21
On or after the above, the indications of the failures show government‟s pretence to her statements of success in the system some defendants or suspects have factually taken enduring residence in prison-custody which is contradictory to the policy. The case in point is that the policy has somewhat fail as can be illustrated in no better ways than a survey of real cases, which epitomises what is happening underneath the official concealment.
In Edet Effiom v. The State,22 the appellant was under arrest in March 27, 1985 on a case of homicide committed on March 25, 1985. After 10 months in imprisonment; charges were preferred against him on January 21, 1986 at the Cross River State High Court at Calabar. 12 months later, December 15, 1986 he was arraigned before the court, the case came up five times. On four instances the accused person could not be produced in court. On another occasion his counsel was not in court from the actual commencement of the trial on May 4, 1988 to the conclusion on January 7, 1991 the case was adjourned 28 times. 13 of those adjournments were necessary because the accused person could not be produced in court. The reasons were the usual lack of vehicle or lack of fuel for the vehicle to transport him to court. On arrival in several occasions, the accused person complained of hunger and weakness and either counsel or court had to make money available for him to buy food. On one occasion, on November 23, 1989, although the accused was present in court, the trial could not go on. On the court‟s records the trial Judge observed that:
Having seen the accused in person and the state of his health, I am of the view that he is in no good health to continue with the trial. He is in fact a bag of bones and needs urgent medical attention23.
If the above was pitiable, then the concept of „stay of proceedings‟ which was introduced into the Nigerian jural vocabulary that occasion „inexcusable problems delay in the justice delivery system‟ was inconceivable. Hence, in 2015, the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan‟s administration had to assent to a bill of the National Assembly24 thereby passed into law the Administration of Criminal Justice Act,25 ACJA, 2015.26 In this, it is provided that the administration of criminal justice in the courts27 of the Federal Capital territory28 (FCT) and other Federal Courts29 in Nigeria30; and for related matters as an improvements to complaints touching the ills and backdrops inherent in the criminal justice system.
So far, the ACJA has been enacted to resolve to a certain extent a number of these ills and some targeted mischiefs, like the mindless hauling of crime suspects into court before investigations were ever conducted, the excessive time taken to conclude crime investigations and the consequential remand of suspects awaiting conclusion of such investigations or trials. Other complications which the ACJA seeks to resolve include the notion of stay of proceedings (already mentioned above); the absence of record systems from which cases being tried by mistake, but occasionally slip out into oblivion; the poor judicial oversight over remand detention leading to prolong pre-trial or no trial imprisonment of criminal defendant; the problem of extracting “by fire or by force” confessional statements from crime suspects in the name of interrogation, to mention just few.
Alternatively, the system was a collapse awaiting resuscitation and rejuvenation. For many years those who are concern have looked the other way. It was a question of who will „bell the cat.‟ Notwithstanding, there were a certain other people feeding fat from the malaise. The society was left putrid as the overall prey aside the jailbirds and sufferers of crime. In the words Femi Falana:
It was the virtual collapse of the criminal justice system which led to the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015… even though it is a federal enactment; some of the provisions are of general application through the country. 31
What is the strength of character of the ACJA?
It is in its introductory provision that among many goals it firstly would want to ensure that the system of administration of criminal justice in Nigeria promotes efficient management of the criminal justice institutions; to ensure speedy dispensation of justice; protection of the society from crime and protection of the rights and interests of the suspect, the defendant, and the victim.32 In a nutshell, the ACJA presupposes that the system is in fetters and a chain hence it aims is to deliver it through:
a. efficient management of criminal justice institutions,
b. Speedy dispensation of justice,
c. Protection of society from crime,
d. Protection of the rights and interests of the suspect,
e. Protection of the rights and interests of the defendant,
f. Protection of the rights and interests of the victim.
The question of how it intends to realise these lofty commitments has been enumerated33 in the committee34 function and responsibility35 to ensure effective and efficient application and compliance with its provisions36 by relevant agencies. Thus far, the duty of the committee is to make sure that: criminal matters are speedily dealt with; congestion of criminal cases in courts is drastically reduced; congestion in prison is reduced to the barest minimum; persons awaiting trial are, as far as possible, not detained in prison custody forever; the relationship between the organs charged with the responsibility for all aspects of the administration of justice is cordial and there exists maximum co-operation amongst the organs in the administration of justice in Nigeria; to collate, analyse and publish information in relation to the administration of criminal justice sector in Nigeria; and to submit quarterly report to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to keep him abreast of the developments towards improved criminal justice delivery and for necessary action and; or carry out such other activities as are necessary for the effective and efficient administration of criminal justice.37
The source of the powers of the ACJA
Every law38 either derives it sources from the constitution or pay obeisance39 to it. To this effect, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereinafter „the CFRN‟) 1999, amongst others is the first procedural law both for administration of civil and criminal justice. In its criminal jurisdiction, it does not preclude any body, reasonably suspected of having committed a criminal offence, from being charged and prosecuted40. The Constitution rather put down the measures to be followed to either establish innocence or guilt. The case in point is that suspects are presumed innocent pending a court of competent jurisdiction to prove their culpability or blamelessness. On the other hand, suspects or defendants are beneficially informed on time in a language they understand and in detail, the nature of the offence alleged of; and must also be given enough time and facilities within the law to prepare for their defence, are some of these rules.
More importantly a defendant may choose to defend the matter by himself or elect to hire legal practitioners of his choice, and/or examine the witnesses called by the prosecution before any court or tribunal, etc. and where he has no wherewithal to hire one, the government will appoint legal representative for him.41 The Constitution it put down unembellished42 that:
(6) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to –
(a) Be informed promptly in the language that he understands and in detail of the nature of the offence;
(b) Be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;
(c) Defend himself in person or by legal practitioners of his own choice;
(d) Examine, in person or by his legal practitioners, the witnesses called by the prosecution before any court or tribunal and obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court or tribunal on the same conditions as those applying to the witnesses called by the prosecution; and
(e) Have, without payment, the assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand the language used at the trial of the offence.43
It is therefore surprisingly „unconstitutional or illegal in the instances of convictions‟ where the accused/defendant or suspect has not been even tried, at all. It is in view of these that the regulatory framework of criminal procedure and practice put in place by the CFRN 1999 for the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, which said procedures and practices are somewhat observed in breach of the law. Indeed, criminal procedure, law and practice, is necessary, for external and internal control by law of the activities of government agencies and the governed generally who find themselves in that system. The law has put in place adequate measures to control criminal justice officials, institutions, and as well restrains such other activities indistinguishably infringing on the rights of those who pass through the system whether as a suspect; defendant or a victim. The objective is that these agencies, in charge of law enforcement, avoid any perceived arbitrariness in their duties.44
This import has though been overwhelmingly over flocked, yet without achieving justice through the due process of law. The Constitution indeed elicited these purposes, which criminal justice administration is model after as the “rule of law”. It particularly stipulates that:
No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed
Subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution a person shall not be convicted of criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefore is prescribed in a written law…45
From the preceding paragraph, it is clear that the Constitution like any other constitution of a nation that practices constitutional democracy is the foundation upon which the pillars of criminal justice administration law are erected46. On this note therefore, it is supposed that the administration of criminal justice must follow the constitution, lest it will be declared unconstitutional in its spirit and letters which are in contravention. 47
While it is not lost the fact that man has evolved his beliefs into laws, decrees and edicts for the purposes of having a well organised and an ordered society. It must also not be lost the fact that when such laws have become clogs in the wheel of progress to retard human and society development or obsolete, there must be reformed. The point being made by this work is that there is a great expectation on the ACJA and its prospects in the criminal justice system administration in Nigeria.
It without gainsaying that on the shoulder of ACJA rests the rights and interests of victim(s) of crime, where before now, a victim was only a prime witness and nothing more.48 The ACJA, again, restrains arrest in lieu49 (otherwise called „the taking of hostage‟), or arrest merely on a civil wrong50 or breach of contract and recording of, as independent wish, the statement of suspect(s).51 It went further to provide for human and humane treatment of arrested suspect.52 This ideology and philosophy is typified by Joel Samaha when he stated that:
Criminal procedure does not trash the system. Rather, it examines and weighs the principles that govern the balance between the government power and individual life, liberty, privacy, and property. It tests the weight of strong honest feelings about this balance in the bright light of reason, logic and facts. Criminal procedure proceeds on the assumption that the general principles governing the balance between government power and individual rights have real meaning only in the context of specific reality, and that reality makes sense only when seen in the light of general principles applied to specific facts in particular circumstances53.
This can as well be traceable to the eternal words of James Madison that the structure of government must furnish the proper checks and balances between the different departments which will be aimed at justice for all. In his words54thus:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to governed men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.55
For this reason the laws are made: that the strong shall not have power to do all that they please.56
In the same vein, Pat-Acholonu JCA, in National Bank of Nig. Ltd v. Svol WA Ltd remarked that:
The purpose of the law in any society claiming to be civilized is to bring order, stability and interdependence consciousness in a given society. To that end, the courts through the well oriented reasoned and season legal activism and social engineering will by their liberal interpretative powers focus on the egalitarian aspect of life of the society and make the society responsive to the norms and demands of some philosophical tenets which guarantee the wellbeing and orderliness of the community.57
In all, the legislative draftsman puts out the drawbacks of CPA and CPC to make humane provisions, the practicability remains to cure all these ills, in view of its radical approach. The provision on compensation of victims in judgement58 under ACJA is innovative, as a court now has power while delivering its judgement, to award to commensurate compensation against the defendant unlike when the victim was allowed to lick his wounds alone and in sorrows. Accordingly the ACJA provides that:
(a) a court may, within the proceedings or while passing judgement, order the defendant or convict to pay a sum of money;
(b) As compensation to any person injured by the offence, irrespective of any other fine or other punishment that may be imposed or that is imposed on the defendant or convict, where substantial compensation is in the opinion of the court recoverable by civil suit…59
1.2 Statement of the Study Problem
The recent revelation that it takes 22 long years to conclude a case up to the Supreme Court, and between 5 to 10 years at the state High Courts, which has made public the challenge of criminal justice administration in Nigeria.60 Even without further query, it was argued that the trouble with the judiciary is located at the root of its entire structure, and beginning from the court gatemen to bailiffs, clerks, registrars, and messengers down to typists and other official who play equally very important roles in the administration of justice. Reasons being that most times court processes are not served on parties except money exchanges hands between litigants/counsels and court official or the police and prison official who complain of lack of logistics. This, and many others for umpteenth times, has hindered the wheel of justice from grinding on full development.
The essence of paying attention to crime prevention is express much when knowledge is in the public that the laws put in place are adhere to and punishment meted justifiably as expected. It is not a wise decision to have them without applying them or when applied they so done haphazardly. There should be no alternative choice than what the law is and extraneous ideas like interest of any kind other than that of law should not read into it. Thus Fapohunda commenting on the ACJA existence after a year said that:61
The need to focus on prevention and strengthening the criminal justice response to all forms of criminality including terrorism has become an increasing priority. This presupposes an urgent need to revisit those institutions that support our criminal justice system. An important institution in this regard is our judiciary… it is often difficult to explain to an average Nigerian that our courts are not all about corruption matters and settling election petitions. On a daily basis tens of judgements are given in diverse areas that affect our lives. We need to recognise that our judiciary faces certain inherent problems, which show the weaknesses and defects of the system. These require immediate reforms. Some of these challenges include corruption, backlog of pending cases in all our courts, archaic systems and procedures including writing in long hand and limited use of IT, poor infrastructure and limited recognition of lower courts.62
The above comment was in print a year after the enactment shows that not very much has been seen achieved from the objects of the ACJA. For instance, the issue of stay of proceedings, delay tactics in the form of technicalities and appointment of sitting judges as members of election petitions tribunals are still there and have made cases in courts to be adjoined for several months. Joined with these problems is incessant strike action always undertaken by Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN)? For example, in 2015 almost all states and federal judicial workers were on strike for more than six months in some states from the beginning of the year. Recently the Ondo State chapter of JUSUN began another strike on the May 5, 2016; even as at June 30 of the same year there was no end in sight. These are some of those issues, not contemplated or were deliberately left out under the ACJA that could checkmate its honest determination.
It is an observable concern of this study that under the prosecution of corruption cases and the treasonable felony charge against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader it seems the ACJA is not apposite to these cases even when it has been in operation at the FCT. The digest from this is that the problem is not the want of laws, there are aplenty. Rather it is the unwillingness or a resultant lack of proper enforcement of such laws. Put in another way, the ACJA intends to promote efficient and effective management of administration of criminal justice; is it not sweeping for it to turn a blind eye on the rights and interests of the suspect, defendant and victim in the above cases if it has the capacity to ensure promotion of efficient and effective administration of criminal justice63 in Nigeria? Does it not portray from here that capacity is not just enough, except there is a political will needed to promote efficient management of criminal justice institutions; speedup dispensation of justice; protect the society from crime; and protect the rights and interests of the suspect, defendant, and the victim? If political will is what needed can it then be said of administration criminal justice or the prosecutorial power; have they not had a dent on the independence of the judiciary? These issues invariably are putting the rule of law under ACJA on trial! Alternatively, there is the Committee which among others has the function and responsibility to ensure that criminal matters are speedily dealt with; congestion, both in cases in courts and awaiting trial suspects in prisons, is drastically reduced to the barest minimum. Is that committee needed so badly? Or is not checking the powers of the court? What is the place of that committee stricto sensu under law? That the committee is to collate, analyse and publish information that relates to criminal justice management and submits quarterly report to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). Are the reasons behind these not far-fetch, does it no put a question to the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that it is just a puppet when the CJN now have the function and responsibility of foreseeing to the developments and improvements in the criminal justice delivery64 and for the needed action to be taken for purpose of effectiveness and efficiency.
The whole gamut of ACJA is it geared toward achieving efficiency; maintain effective delivery in the administration of criminal justice institutions? It is not merely important that justice should be done but it is necessary that it should be manifestly and judiciously seen to be done. This was resonated in R v. Sussex where Lord Hewart CJ considered and observed that:
…a long line of cases shows that it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. Nothing is to be done which creates even a suspicion that there has been an improper inference with the course of justice…65
The point being made is whether the Ministry of Justice has not already provided for the function and responsibility of the Committee provided by ACJA one hand and on the other hand are the functions of the Attorney General and Chief Justice of Nigeria? For if, the realisation of ACJA‟s purposes should be under the pre-occupation of a special Committee headed by the CJN has this not derogated both the office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice portraying same as have missed the mark?66 It goes to no issue to say that there are many circumstances that would affect these purposes.67 Worthy of mention are the police and court as institutions of criminal justice administration, their personnel, modes of investigation, arraignment, charge information and prosecution, which most times are shoddy preparations have not serve as a measure of deterrence.68 Providing for a committee, when there is a Ministry of Justice and an Attorney General are to this study “too many cooks”.
1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Study
1.3.1 Aims of the Study
The aim of the study will be to examine some of the provisions of the ACJA particularly as it concerns:
a. Congestion of courts with criminal cases
b. Delay in dispensation of justice
c. Stay of proceedings in criminal cases
d. Remand and holding charge custody
e. Improper charge and information before a trial court.
f. (a) The police, (b) the legal aid, (c) the courts, (d) the prisons, and etc.
1.3.2 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are to ascertain:
a. the purpose of the law
b. the impact of the law on the society69
c. the role of the law in the society
d. the purpose of ACJA as an access to justice, rule of law and protection of human dignity; and
e. to determine appropriately the purposes of Administration Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee when there is already Ministry of Justice
1.4 Significance of the Study
The research is very important as it seeks address some ascertain challenges bedevilling the administration criminal justice. It views in certain ways a better practice and procedure for criminal justice delivery under the ACJA, 2015. It discusses unidentified problems which law writers may have not addressed, with a view to proffer solutions. It is hoped therefore that law teachers, law students, criminal justice institutions, scholars and the general public will greatly benefit therefrom. Hence, the study seeks to enlighten the average Nigerian on their rights, the law enforcement officer on the modalities, and the practitioners on the best practices to attain the ends of justice through the means offer by law.
1.5 Research Methodology
The study uses observational and analytical methodology to examine the problems and prospects of ACJA, 2015. The research depends on that facts obtained from principal and ancillary sources. Thus, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, the CFRN 199970 as amended, the now repealed Criminal Procedure Act71 (CPA), Criminal Procedure (north) Code (CPC)72, Administration of Justice Committee Act (AJCA)73 Administration Justice Law (AJL)74, Nigerian Police Act,75 the Prisons Act76, amongst others as principal source. The ancillary source include relevant materials on the internet, books, essays, journals and articles published on the subject matter together with the opinions of courts in judicial decisions. Other source of information is from the Faculty of Law library, Kenneth Dike Library (KDL), Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. During the research, many law chambers and police stations were visited to elicit information directly from lawyers and police officers.
1.6 Organisational Structure of the Study
The study, titled: “Problems and Prospects of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015” comprise FIVE (5) chapters. The first chapter (Chapter 1) is the background to the study. The second chapter (Chapter 2) is dedicated to literature review and the theoretical framework. The third chapter (Chapter 3) is concern with what necessitated ACJA, its overview, the conceptual framework and subject matter of the Act. The fourth chapter (Chapter 4) discusses the Problems and Prospects of the provisions like plea bargain;77 (holding) charge or detention time limits;78 power of court to order payment of compensation to victim of crime;79 and the administration of criminal justice monitoring committee.80 At the end, the fifth chapter (Chapter 5) is concern with summary conclusion and recommendation.
In conclusion, the study the aims to examine, analyse and discuss the purposes of the ACJA and to posits that the identified problems associated with criminal justice administration in the country are not that of absence of law in that direction but that of improper, ineffective and inefficient enforcement, supervision or the lack of appropriate will to follow the procedural due process of law. The study also examines some perceived ills and backdrops in the criminal justice system. It further elucidates on the functions and responsibilities of the Committee in ensuring compliance with the provisions of the ACJA, comparably Joel Samaha had objectively reasoned that:
…If we live in a pure democracy, the majority who won the election could authorise the police to shoot anyone who they had a hunch was a street gang member. But we live in a constitutional democracy where neither a single dictator nor an overwhelming majority of the people has total power over us as individuals. Our constitutional democracy balances the need to provide for the public safety and security against other equally important values –individual liberty, privacy, and dignity.81
Hence, the study reflects on the objectives of the ACJA as shall be seen in further chapters and postulates that while justice ought not to be delayed, denied and buried; it should not altogether be hurried, rushed and crushed, eventually. For that reason, the court and all involve must seek to strike a balance between delayed and hurried justice.82 It should be regrettable however that the dangers pose by delay in dispensation of justice, criticised and condemned today are later repeated under the ACJA in the country.