The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has granted a general fiat to State Attorneys General to prosecute Federal offences in their respective states on his behalf.
This is contained in a press statement issued on Tuesday and made available to The Point by Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.
Comrade Isah disclosed that the AGF made this known in his opening address at the occasion of the meeting of the Body of Attorneys General on the proposed National Policy on Prosecutors in Nigeria jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Abuja on 6th October, 2016.
The AGF expressed the need by the federal, states and other stakeholders in the justice sector to continuously collaborate to promote the reform of the justice system as it remains a veritable tool to driving the reform of the justice sector and inspire public confidence in the system.
Malami noted that the criminal justice system has been bedevilled with a lot of challenges, particularly the absence of necessary policies and legislations that facilitate smooth, speedy and effective administration of criminal justice and guarantees free and fair of suspects.
“It is important to note that these challenges have no jurisdictional limits or boundary. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to deal with these challenges and improve the capacity of justice institutions to efficiently and effectively deliver to our people”, he charged members.
The Minister also explained that, “the adoption of the policy documents and the administration of Criminal Act by the states will among others, promote effective and efficient criminal justice administration through the enhancement of the capacity of justice sector institutions to collect, preserve, share and manage crime information, remove impediments to speedy dispensation of justice, protect the society from crime and protect the rights and interest of defendants, victims and the society at large”.
“The beauty of having a policy as opposed to legislation lies in its flexibility. The policy will serve as basis for sound philosophy and practice for our teeming prosecutors and a guiding code that would be respected and observed by all”.
Malami added also that, “A policy has a capacity to be adjusted without the controversies associated with amending legislation”, advising, “there is therefore the need for us as Attorneys General and Chief Law Officers to come together to put in place mechanism and strategies that will facilitate the effective implementation of the policy in our respective states and the country in general for the overall benefit of our people”.
The AGF expressed appreciation to the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for their support and collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice in driving the reform of the criminal justice system in Nigeria.
The Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun affirmed that the task before the body’s meeting is the presentation and consideration of the report of the Committee constituted at its last meeting to address the concerns and views raised with the draft National Policy on Prosecution, Code of Conduct for Prosecutors and National Guidelines on Prosecution in Nigeria and other issues referred to the Committee for consideration.
Abidogun ably represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mr. Tahir Hamzat urged members to consider other issues requiring the attention of the Body.
He also implored the Chief Law Officers and political heads of the Ministries of Justice of the various states that their validation and adoption of the policy will no doubt ensure its smooth national implementation, adding that their resolution on other issues will in no small measure assist the Ministry in driving the much needed reform in the justice sector.
He also acknowledged the immeasurable support of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation towards the organization of the meeting and other programmes of the Ministry which demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the present administration’s fight against corruption and the promotion of the rule of law.
He expressed appreciation to the development partners, the European Union and UNODC for their support towards the efforts at reforming the justice sector for the development of the country.
Earlier, the UNODC Country Representative, Cristina Albertin noted that the role of prosecutors is critical to the development and administration of justice all over the world.
She further emphasized that, “however, capacity building and technical assistance is required to continuously at all levels ensure that justice is delivered especially today in the world of emerging forms of crimes including organized and complex crimes.
“It is my pleasure and privilege to be assigned to Nigeria at the time the country has adopted the milestone legislation of the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act paving the way to implement a comprehensive justice reform to ensure effective and efficient justice delivery across Nigeria in respect to Rule of Law and Human Rights”.
“The document for consideration in today’s meeting represents an important step in the right direction”, she concluded.