……Inaugurates the Nigerian Police Force and DPP focal group.
In a bid to ensure correctional facilities decongestion and ensure quick dispensation of justice, the Lagos State Government on Friday at Alausa Secretariat launched a restorative justice center and Secretariat of the Criminal Justice Sector Reform Committee (CJSRC).
The Lagos State restorative justice center is to serve as an alternative dispute resolution and as a tool for decongesting the less serious case in the court system.
In his address the Chief judge of Lagos State who also served as the chairman of CJSRC, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba noted that the restorative system of justice is not alien but has been in existence for over three decades and in practice in other countries hence the adoption of it by the State justice system to ensure peaceful resolution of disputes.
Justice Alogba ably represented by Hon. Justice Adenike Coker stated that the traditional justice system has suffered a great deal of setbacks with evident increase in the rate of crime, long prosecution process and overcrowding of correctional facilities amongst others.
He therefore, noted that the restorative justice centre is a welcome development as restorative justice referrals from courts and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) can be settled amicably at the centre.
The Attorney-General and commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo ,SAN in his address noted that the restorative justice system has been a dominant method of dealing with conflict for most of human history as it existed alongside a diverse range of other practices, including retribution hence its adoption by the State.
He stated that it is the responsibility of government to ensure that matters are resolved in a reasonable and timely manner because when it drags on for long people tend to find alternatives and take laws into their hands to get what they consider as justice which is not.
“Restorative justice centre is a form of alternative dispute resolution and we are determined to deploy it as a tool for decongesting as many of the less serious cases in the docket of the court system and invariably the overcrowded correctional centres”.
He explained further that restorative justice system is a process where all the parties with a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and usually involves a trained facilitator.
In addition,he noted that the State government in partnership with The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) has trained over 100 facilitators, magistrates, traditional rulers, police officers on restorative justice procedures.
The centre according to Onigbanjo is expected to raise awareness and build support for the restorative justice program as well as to invite participation and collaboration with relevant stakeholders in implementing the model of justice. This he noted further demonstrates the commitment of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration to expanding access to justice and building a peaceful and safe community that is victim orientated.
The Solicitor General and Permanent secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-bey expressed delight at the launch of the centre noting that it is another way of ensuring quick dispensation of justice while thanking the British council, GIZ, ROLAC and other donor agencies for their unwavering support towards promoting a criminal justice system that wins the trust of the community.
The Honourable Chief judge used the occasion to launch the presentation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) document which is a document that seeks to ensure seemless collaboration between investigation prosecutors from the Police and the DPPs office at the stages of investigation up to the prosecution stage.
The Nigerian Police force and DPP focal group was also inaugurated to fast track and champion the process of investigation and prosecution
There were also goodwill addresses from Mr. Gertjan de Gruijter of GIZ police programme, Lagos Commissioner of Police, CP Abiodun Alabi represented by ACP Mary Anyim and RoLAC State Coordinator, Mrs. Ajibola Ijimakinwa, Dr. Akeem Bello among others.
In attendance were officers of the Nigerian Police Force, Correctional facilities, Prison Fellowship of Nigeria, members of the RJ steering committee and relevant stakeholders.