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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.