At the Network of Justice Sector Reform Team Conference

Network of Justice Sector Reform Team Conference

Delight Hotels, Ado- Ekiti

Held between 2-5 July 2018

Statement by Olawale Fapohunda, Attorney-General &Commissioner for Justice, Ekiti State

Protocols

 

  1. I am grateful to the Federal Ministry of Justice for its decision to host the meeting of the Network of Justice Sector Reform Teamin Ekiti State. I should also thank all the Participants for honouring our invitation despite all the horror stories on social media on the state of security in the State.

 

  1. Ekiti State does not have an unusual share of the security challenges facing Nigeria. Be assured that the Fayemi administration is aggressivelypursuing an agenda that places the prevention of crime, enhancement of safety and security at the center of governance. You are safe in Ekiti State.

 

  1. May I add that I am not a stranger to this initiative having participatedactively in the conceptual meeting as well as several other meetings.I am glad that this initiative has since grown to become an important gathering of Justice Sector Stakeholders acrossNigeria. I am pleased to announce that last week, Ekiti State inaugurated its Justice Sector Reform Team happily joining other States that have done the same.

 

  1. These Meetings have provided a practical framework for the sharing of ideas and important developments in the administration of justice in Nigeria.Indeed, in my view, the most important objective of this initiative is the sharing of information and expertise of the situation of justice sector reform in our States.

 

  1. For us in Ekiti State, the reform of the administration of justice system is not simply a theoretical concept or one that is all about law and justice. Government accepts that the socio-economic survival of our State depends on our ability to evolve a reform agenda that on one hand meets the expectations of our People for a sustainable improvement in the quality of their lives while at the same time promotes fair and equal access to justice for all.

 

  1. It is for these reasons that the Fayemi administration since its inception embarked on some of the most radical review of the administration of justice system anywhere in Nigeria. We have in many ways been able to reverse the cynicism that accompanies government’s efforts at reform and have in many ways been able to show that a government inspired programme of reform in the justice sector is possible where there is political will, commitment and subject matter appreciation from the highest level of government.

 

 

  1. Within a year, we have aggressively focused on three main intervention areas. These are Law Reform, Policy Change and Institutional Growth.In the area ofLaw Reform, we have refrained from reviewing and enacting Laws for the sake of it. We have focused on those Laws that promote the reconstruction and development of our State especially given our experience in the last four years.

 

  1. Some of the Laws that we have enacted in the period under review include the Ekiti State Administration of Civil Justice Law 2019. This is a novel Legislation that specifically seeks to respond to the issue of delay and cost in the administration of civil justice. The Ekiti State Property Protection (Anti Land Grabbing) Law 2019- which seeks to criminalise illegal occupation and dealings in landed property.

 

  1. We also provided Leadership in the enactment of the Ekiti State Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Law 2019. This Law provides a legal framework for the delivery of sustainable development goals to our people in a manner that is consistent with the electoral promises of the Fayemi administration.

 

  1. We are currently reviewing the Laws of Ekiti State. Our expectation is that at the end of this exercise in the last quarter of this year, our body of laws will be one that is current, relevant and responsive to the needs of our people.

 

  1. Concerning policy change, our goal in the Ministry of Justice is to ensure justice processes that are fast, effective and as cheap as possible. Our vision is for justice processes that are sensitive to the needs of our people specifically the poor and the vulnerable.

 

  1. One of the areas that we have had to overhaul our policy intervention is that of Sexual and Domestic Violence. In 2013, Ekiti State became the first state in Nigeria to open a register of sex offenders. The purpose of this Register is to provide administrative tracking of sex offenders.  This initiative was not followed up by our previous administration.

 

  1. We have now reopened the Register and included additional measure to ensure the effective prosecution and deterrence of sex offenders. Some of the additional measures that we seek to introduce include compulsory psychiatric tests for offenders in child defilement cases, ensuring that sex offenders do not benefit from Mr. Governor’s Powers of Prerogative of Mercy, pasting the pictures of convicted sex offenders in their communities and on the website of the Ministry of Justice.

 

  1. In the area ofInstitutional Building, we recognise that an enabling working environment is a crucial component of our reform agenda. In the past months, we have undertaken face-lift and refurbishment of the Ministry of Justice building. This is to ensure that State Counsel as much as possible work in an affirming environment. Our long-termgoal is the construction of a state-of-the-artMinistry of Justice Complex. This, we hope to achieve by the middle of 2020.  We have reversed the structural defects in thenew Ekiti State High Court Complex, which was built by the previous administration. The Court is now in full use.

 

  1. Enabling an appropriate work environment in the Ministry of Justice is not just about our place of work, we have placed high premium on the provision of career advancement opportunities for all those who work in the Ministry of Justice. To achieve this in concrete terms we established the Ministry of Justice Academy. The First of its kind in Nigeria with a single mandate of ensuring that all those who work in the Ministry of Justice, Lawyers and Non-lawyers are given the opportunity to enhance their professional qualifications. We are particularly proud that the Ministry of Justice Academy has since its establishment being subject of commendationsfrom within and outside Nigeria.

 

  1. I should also mention that in our effort to achieve professionalism in our work, we have entered into a partnership with Law Pavilion. In addition to training our State Counsel in the use of its software, thesoftware has now been customized for Ekiti State. In addition to having the Judgments of superior courts in our tablets, we have included the Ekiti State Administration of Criminal Justice Law and the Administration of Civil Justice Law. The Law Pavilion is also working with us to compile theJudgments of the High Court of Ekiti State.

 

16       Inaddition, recognizing the important role of traditional institutions in our State and the impact they have on justice delivery at the grassroots level, we have commenced the process of reporting ourPalace Court Judgments.  We envisage that reporting the Judgments of our traditional courts and making them publicly available will address the issue of openness, transparency and fairness that has frequently been raised with respect to proceedings in such courts.

 

  1. Nothing I have said should be construed to mean that we have solved all the problems affecting justice administration in the State. We continuously struggle with a number of challenges. Achieving efficientrelationship betweenkey government institutions in the justice sector is still a challenge. Our pace of reforms and our determination to remove all obstacles to effective justice administration in the state has many times led to head on collisions with at least one key arm of government. We also have to work within the limited resources available to the State. The Paradox of our situationis that we are a Sector with many progressive ideas but with limited resources to actualize our vision for our justice system. We also have tomanage the complexity of Federal Institutions not within the control of the State.

 

  1. In conclusion, I want to wish you all a memorable stay in Ado Ekiti. I hope you will be made comfortable by the hospitality of our People and the taste of our world-famousPounded Yam. I wish you all a fruitful Conference.

 

 

At FIDA Law Week 2019 – Human Trafficking

Statement by Olawale Fapohunda, Attorney- General & Commissioner for Justice, Ekiti State
Opening Ceremony FIDA Law Week 2019
Protocols
1) I thank the First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi for honouring us with her presence here today.  I am sure Her Excellency’s acceptance of our several invitations is a vote of confidence in our efforts to bring justice to the Women, Men and Children in Ekiti State.
2) I should also congratulate FIDA for putting together this all-week programme. I am proud to be associated with FIDA Ekiti State. FIDA Ekiti State by any standard is one of the most progressive FIDA branches in the country.
3) May I also use this opportunity to congratulate the out-going executive officers of FIDA led by Mrs. Anoma for the sterling work they have done in ensuring that issues of domestic violence, rape and child defilement remain priority areas of government intervention.
4) I look forward to working with the new Executive Officers led by Seyi Ojo. My immediate advice to them is to work quickly towards the speedy resolution of all the interpersonal issues that arouse from the FIDA elections.  Ekiti State needs a united and focused FIDA.
5) The theme of this year FIDA Law Week – Human Trafficking: A Menace to Socio-Economic Development of the Society is a call for reflection in many ways.  It also tells a sad story.  That despite the plethora of Rights provided in the 1999 Constitution as amended and those guaranteed by the very many regional and international human rights treaties, modern day slavery still persists in our country.
6)  For us in Ekiti State Human Trafficking is no longer a theoretical concept. Human Trafficking in our State is a reality and we are now on the verge of being labeled a transit State for human traffickers. This has implications on how the world sees us.  We cannot afford to be tagged with another of those regrettable aliases. The damage that ‘stomach infrastructure’ did to our collective sense of pride is still very fresh in our memories.
7) For us in the Ministry of Justice, our response to human trafficking is three-fold. It is about the law, the judicial institutions and working in partnership with relevant government and non-government organisations. In concrete terms, the Ministry of Justice has begun a holistic review of the Laws of Ekiti State. We are not reviewing our laws for the sake of doing so but to ensure that we have appropriate legislation that meets current realities.
This Review includes revisiting key provisions of the Ekiti State Criminal Code Law.  It is the desire of the Fayemi Administration to enact laws that respond to emerging crimes in the State including human trafficking.
8) It is trite that without the appropriate enforcement of our laws, our law reform process will at best be an academic exercise with little impact on our population. The Fayemi Administration is committed to strengthening our judiciary. Our intervention is this area should not be misunderstood.  The Executive is not in competition with the judiciary and we have no desire to subtly or overtly designate the judiciary as a department within the Ministry of Justice. Achieving independence of the Judiciary in all its ramifications is a key vision of the Administration.
9) Achieving independence of the judiciary however does not mean that we should play no role or have no ideas about the type of Judiciary we desire as a State.  Effective prosecution of Human Trafficking and indeed all forms of criminality requires a vibrant and modern Judiciary that is well informed on all fronts, self- assured, confident and has the respect of justice sector stakeholders within and outside Ekiti State.  It is for this reason that the administration recently provided additional resources to enable the Judiciary move to the new High Court Complex. We did not see this as an abandoned project.
10)  Going forward, while we will continue to engage the Judiciary on the need for sustainable judicial reforms especially the type that will lead to the elevation our  hardworking Judges to superior courts, we have identified the magistracy as an important area of future intervention. Next week, I will be presenting a memorandum to the State Executive Council on practical steps for the implementation of the Ekiti State Magistrates Court Law. Again may I use this opportunity to invite all justice sector stakeholders to contribute towards this process of achieving a Magistracy that will be our pride and that of the Country.
11) On the issue of partnerships, because our approach to human trafficking is not dogmatic and because this is an evolving area, the administration is collaborating with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).   I am pleased to report that the Director-General of NAPTIP and her high level team will be visiting Ekiti State all next week.  This visit will provide us with an opportunity to share perspectives on the situation of human trafficking in Ekiti State and more importantly establish concrete measures in fighting this scourge.  One of the practical measures we have identified is the inauguration of the State Task Force on Human Trafficking with membership from government and non-governmental institutions.
12) May I in conclusion, wish FIDA a productive week and thank you all for listening.
Olawale Fapohunda
17/6/19