Priorities

An integrated, efficient and professional Ministry of Justice

Our goal is to build a positive corporate image for the Ministry, one that matches the values and vision of the Fayemi administration. Our image will be based on professionalism, effective and efficient delivery of administration of justice and state legal services.

  1. We will integrate all the different departments under the Ministry of Justice so that we can act as one coherent institution.
  2. We will concentrate on building good human resources policies and practices, so that we can perform our work well. Specifically, we will plan career paths so that all those who work in the Ministry can advance and get job satisfaction.
  3. We will run programmes on values and attitudes so that we will be able to treat each other, and members of the public, with dignity and respect.

Effective and efficient provision of legislative and legal services to the state.

The main functions of the Ministry of Justice is to do the following:
  •  Draft and check executive bills
  •  Review government contracts
  •  Give legal opinions to the executive, government departments and to statutory bodies
  •  Scrutinize international agreements to make sure that they are not in conflict with the Constitution or with any municipal laws including laws of Ekiti State.

The Ministry handles criminal cases, civil claims and actions, notorial work, contracts and legal advise

Aside from these services, the Ministry also
  • Acts for the state government where there is conflict between the state government and the federal government
  • Do legal work for various statutory bodies in which the government has financial or other interests.
The Ministry will among other things have to address issues like:
  • Closeness of the services to users
  • Accessibility
  • Familiarity with the specific legal needs of client departments
  • Capacity to handle issues quickly and responsively
We will restructure the provision of State Legal Services to:
  • Create processes and infrastructure to ensure the strategic management of state litigation.
  •  Entrench alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in state litigation.
  • Create a process to strategically manage the allocation of instructions and briefs to the legal profession for effectiveness and transformational purposes and for better accountability and oversight.
  • Promote specialisation and instill greater confidence in all the state’s legal services though focused training and development.
  • Ensure that state counsel perform their core mandate of going to court.

Here we will promote efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness to the needs of the administration.

We have identified four main areas for intervention
  1. Undertake an audit of the status of all civil and criminal matters instituted by and against the state government with a view to determining the effectiveness of their prosecution.
  2. Critically appraise government contractual relations across MDAs with a view to determining appropriate measures that may be required to better safeguard the interests of the public.
  3.  Appoint legal advisers to all MDAs and State House of Assembly {Part Time}
  4. Create a Registry of all Government contracts in order to enhance effective monitoring of government obligations as well as that of service providers

Fair and equal access to justice for all, taking into account the diversity of the needs of all those who live in Ekiti State

Access to Justice is essential for any legitimate system. It strengthens public respect for the law and gives people confidence in the legal system.

Many people and communities see themselves completely alienated from the legal system. Legal services are generally expensive and intimidating. Also, they are concentrated in urban areas. This means that rural communities seldom have the services of lawyers or legal advice offices. In many cases, this has lead people to take the law into their own hands and to administer their own brand of justice- something that no government can encourage.

The objective of the Ministry in terms of vulnerable groups is to develop and execute initiatives and policies for the implementation of legislation relating to the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups, with particular reference to women, children and persons with disabilities

    People with special needs

The present system of justice must recognize that people have different needs. The special needs of a number of disadvantaged groups, particularly the needs of children, women, the disabled and rural communities, are often overlooked. We must urgently address these needs. There is the need to focus particularly on:

  • Access to legal aid
  • Violence (including physical, mental and sexual violence)
  • The resolution of family-related legal disputes, including disputes about property and inheritance
  • The needs of rural communities
  • The needs of prison inmates
    Legal Representation

Lawyers should be available to present all people in court. Legal representation helps people to participate meaningfully in what is normally a complex system of justice. However, most people cannot afford to pay for lawyers. And although the state is constitutionally bound to provide legal representation to those who cannot afford it, this is not always possible because litigation is very expensive and the state’s budget for legal aid is limited. This means that only a few people who need legal assistance actually get it. But there are alternatives to state legal aid, at least in the urban areas. These include:

  • University students working at legal aid clinics
  • NGO Legal advice centers
    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Another way of improving access to justice is to promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. ADR mechanisms are usually cheaper, faster and easier to use. There is a need to explore the development and co-ordination of ADR mechanisms and encouraged their use.

  1. We will work on the modalities of setting up a multi-door court house in the Ekiti State judiciary.
  2. We will develop cost effective state-funded legal aid that is accessible to everybody, taking into account the limited nature of resources available to government. This will include {i} enabling legislation for the office of the public defender {ii} Implementing policies that will encourage the use of legal service offered by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and paralegals including programmes to optimize the use of student services offered through legal aid clinics{iii} facilitating everybody’s access to lawyers by encouraging the NBA to adopt policies that will increase the number of lawyers that provide pro-bono services and make sure that they are evenly distributed in terms of geography, demography and specialized skills.
  3.  We will Introduce community outreach programmes like information desks in courts, pamphlets and media campaigns so that we can inform the public about the justice system and human rights
  4. We will support the role and functioning of palace courts. so that disputes can be resolved faster and cheaper, and so that dispute resolutions are lasting and promote better relationships between people.
  5. We will promote co-operation of relevant Justice institutions like the Legal Aid Council and National Human Rights Commission.

Human Resources Development

The Ministry recognises that people are its most important resource for accomplishing its mission and is committed to the professional development, self-actualisation and personal wellbeing of all employees- Lawyers and non-lawyers.

All the people who are in the Ministry of Justice will have to work together to achieve the objectives of the activity plan. They will have to be:

  • Well trained
  •  Professional
  •  Sensitive to peoples’ different cultural experiences
  •  Sensitive to peoples’ different gender experiences
  •  Respectful of everybody’s dignity and human rights
  •  Responsive to different peoples’ needs

The full development of our human resources is a major challenge. Our human resource development policy will have to make the best use of governments limited resources in the justice sector, and at the same time, foster a culture of continuous development and learning.

Training

Aside from experience, training is the most important way of acquiring skills and knowledge. But, it is also an effective way of changing attitudes and of increasing personnel motivation. In addition to professional knowledge and expertise, people who work in the justice system need:

• Decision- making skills
• Service skills and attitudes
• Appreciation of diversity
• Awareness of human rights and responsibilities

Having these skills, and understandings, will strengthen their ability to cope with the daily challenges of the justice sector.

The Design of Training Programmes

We must make sure that the programmes that we implement produce the outcomes that we want. It is important that programmes are designed on the basis of systematically identified training needs. There is a need to build evaluation mechanisms, or performance indicators, into the programmes at regular intervals, so their effectiveness can be measured and redesigned if necessary.

Training schedules must not only be limited further education but must able to identify and respond to:
  • Attitudinal problems
  •  Motivational problems
  • Problems that come from a lack of skills or knowledge

There is the need to achieve a personnel profile that reflects government policy on the provision of efficient public service. There is a need to design and implement programmes that would identify and encourage change agents in the Ministry’s departments as well as programmes that create a supportive working environment and one that affirms competence and dedication to work.

It is important that particular attention is given to gender issues. In particular, there is the need to encourage women who work in the justice sector to develop their skills so that they able to advance their careers.

  1. We will enable an appropriate mechanism to recognize hard work. A staff performance evaluation will be conducted quarterly. We will deal specifically with training and other educational activities. We will improve the skills and the motivation of all those who work in the Ministry.
  2. We will focus on professional development including attitudinal and subject matter awareness for all legal officers in the Ministry and support the participation of staff in local and international training programmes. In particular we will
  3.  Sign MOU with the largest private law firms in Nigeria so that our legal officers can obtain private sector experience.
  4.  We will sign MOU with other Ministry’s of Justice across the Federation were best practices exists
  5. Host a series of AG Colloquium on current issues in Law and administration of Justice. Here we will invite local and international experts to facilitate our in-house training programmes and pubic legal education programmes.
  6.  We will launch a mentoring programme. As an initial pilot project each of the Directors in the Ministry will be linked with a senior legal practitioner with expertise in the relevant field. The purpose of this programme will be to achieve continuous on -the -job learning. Apart from subject matter knowledge, the mentors will also give advise on career progression.

Monitoring and Implementation

In the implementation of our activities, we will deliberately adopt and consultative and inclusive process. In addition to convening frequent dialogue sessions, we will support a framework for stakeholder participation in the administration of justice in Ekiti State.

We will support the Chief Judge, Ekiti State to constitute a Ekiti State Consultative Forum on Administration of Justice, consisting of all the role players in the justice system in the state. The proposed forum will have the following membership:

Chief Judge, Ekiti State –       Chairperson

Members
  1.  All Judges of the High Court.
  2. Attorney- General & Commissioner for Justice.
  3. Representative Chief Magistrates.
  4. 3 Traditional Rulers.
  5. Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
  6. Commissioner of Police.
  7. Controller of Prison.
  8. Rep Legal Aid Council.
  9. Deans Ekiti State University/ Afe Babalola University.
  10. Rep National Human Rights Commission.
  11. Chairman, and 3 Senior members of the Nigerian Bar Association.
  12. 2 Representatives, Legal Service NGOs.
  13. 3 Special Nominees of the CJ{may include persons with expertise on Justice Issues}.

The Forum will generally provide policy direction and oversight of the administration of justice in Ekiti State. Its goal will be to achieve an integrated and efficient justice system in Ekiti State. We will give support to the development of a legal framework around this initiative.

Safety, Security And Freedom From Crime For Everybody In Ekiti State

In order to fight crime effectively the criminal justice system must be predictable and must act as a deterrent. Over the years our criminal justice system has been identified with the following challenges. These include:

  • Chronic delay in the trial of cases,
  • Lack of effective coordination amongst the agencies of the criminal justice system- the police, prisons, prosecutors and the courts,
  • Absence of clear and consistent sentencing guidelines,
  • Growing number of awaiting trial inmates,
  • Holden’ charge,
  • Limited alternatives to imprisonment
  • Dichotomy between federal and state offences,
  • Indiscriminate transfer of Investigating police offices,
  • Absconding witnesses

Here we will focus on reorganizing the criminal justice system. We aim to make sure that offenders are dealt with effectively, efficiently and fairly. We also aim to make sure that victims get support.

We will focus on three main areas
  1. We will make sure that accused persons are brought properly to court and are properly tried. We will make sure that bail and sentencing are done effectively, consistently and in such a way that crime will be prevented safety for all communities will be promoted.
  2. We will put in place a single sate prosecutorial system, develop effective prosecutorial policy and capacity and improve the consistency of the system.
  3. We will work with criminal justice agencies in the state and create a platform for collaboration and cooperation in matters of criminal justice administration.

Potential criminals should know that they will be arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced for any crimes that they commit. They should also be aware that they will serve a substantial part of any sentences that the courts give them.

The Ministry of Justice has a crucial role to play in guaranteeing this degree of predictability. We must make sure that there are adequate and consistent standards for bail and sentencing and there is a state prosecutorial policy so that the approach to prosecutions will be consistent throughout the state.

We will give urgent attention and priority to the special plight of women and children who have a special right to be protected from violence. In particular we will open a State Register for Sex Offenders.

The criminal justice process must bring alleged criminals to trial quickly and must not prolong the cases endlessly. The Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian Police and the Prisons Service will have to rationalize their resources and work together interdependently, to achieve this level of certainty in our criminal justice system.

The MOJ must try to remedy this.

Witness Protection

We cannot try cases properly without witnesses. We often have to withdraw criminal cases, or postpone them indefinitely because we have no witnesses. Witnesses are reluctant to come to court either because they are afraid of being victimized by alleged criminals or because they have very little confidence in the criminal justice system.

We need to make sure that our witnesses are safe at court proceedings, so that justice can be done swiftly. The criminal justice system is like a chain whose strength is as good as its weakest link. Our lack of witness protection is often our weak link.

Under this heading we will

  1. We will develop a state prosecutorial policy that promotes fairness, efficiency, professionalism and consistency. This will include the development of prosecutorial guidelines especially for victims of violence, child witnesses and children who are in conflict with the law.
  2. Strengthen our prosecutorial capacity by providing our prosecutors with adequate training as well as professional, administrative and infrastructural support.
  3. The department’s priorities include strengthening the legislative framework in which the justice system operates. In this regard, we will review our criminal laws and procedures with an eye on achieving speed. We will support the Bill on Criminal Justice Administration, to harmonize and consolidate the criminal procedure laws, reduce delays and provide for more humane treatment of suspects. As well as to ensure effective supervision and coordination of the administration of justice by all the relevant organs.
  4.  We will examine the need for judicial officers to use inquisitorial rather than adversarial, methods when presiding over trials that involve certain kinds of offences and looking at the feasibility of strengthening restorative elements, such as victim offender reconciliation in the criminal justice system
  5.  We will as a matter of priority facilitate, coordinate and provide leadership to a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster. The purpose of the cluster is to enable an integrated, coordinated and holistic approach to the fight against crime. The goal is to improve prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution through integrated policies and frameworks as well as increased capacity.

The aim of the cluster is to find solutions that will contribute to a transformed, modernized and effective criminal justice system value chain in Ekiti State. This includes:

  • The delivery of quality and professional services in an integrated, coordinated, effective and efficient justice system.
  • The provision of swift, equitable and fair justice in criminal matters
  • Effectively deterring crime on a sustainable basis.

We will take the following specific measures with view to reducing the population of inmates in ado-ekiti prisons.

  1. We will review on a case by case basis all persons awaiting trial with a view to ensuring that no remand person is kept in prison custody unnecessary. This will include a review of the cases of all the convicted persons in with a view to making appropriate recommendations to the prerogative of mercy committee
  2. Cases where the DPP gives a no case to answer advice and the police have been unable or unwilling to act will be withdrawn from court. This is without prejudice to the right of such persons to seek compensation for unlawful detention.
  3. Cases where the police are unable or unwilling to provide original copies of case files will be withdrawn from court. A formal complaint will be made to the State Police Command. Consideration will be given to prosecuting the responsible officers for obstruction of justice and criminal negligence.
  4. Cases delayed in court due to the unavailability of the IPO will be reassessed with a view to securing the presence of such IPO, in those cases where the cases are delayed or jeopardized because of the malicious non- cooperation of IPOs, where in the assessment of the office of the DPP, the noncooperation of such IPO is prejudicial to the successful prosecution of the case, such case will be withdrawn from court. A formal complaint will be made to the State Police Command. Consideration will be given to prosecuting the responsible officers for obstruction of justice and criminal negligence.
  5. We will within 24 hours of issuing legal advise send copies of same to the prisons command for the information of the accused person

Special Initiatives

Support for the legal Profession in Ekiti State.

The Ministry of Justice will seek collaboration with all the three branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in Ekiti State.
The office of the AG will:

  • Support Bar Bench Forum- Quarterly meeting between the State Judiciary and the Legal Profession on practice, procedure and general workings of the justice system.
  • Re-launch Telephone Directory of lawyers practicing in Ekiti State in partnership with GSM service providers. Facilitate Close user group solution to facilitate effective communication between lawyers
  • Support a quarterly lawyers dinner in furtherance of the fine tradition of the Bar.

Establish the Lawyers in Government Forum. We will take deliberate steps to ensure that persons with experience and expertise are involved in our justice delivery programmes. As an immediate step, we will revitalize the meetings of lawyers in government. This will include the management of the Ministry of Justice and other lawyers in the various MDAs in Ekiti State and the State House of Assembly.

Strengthening courts and the other structures administering justice without compromising their independence

Having a system of independent courts and other structures that administer justice efficiently and effectively is one of the corner stone of any democracy.

Bureaucracy, slow and expensive court procedures have led to increase demands for a system of justice where disputes can be dealt with quickly, inexpensively and in a way that is easy for the people who are involved on the dispute.

The Ministry will enhance the resolution of criminal, civil and family law disputes by facilitating accessible, efficient and quality administrative support to the courts. The challenge is to incorporate these structures and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms into an integrated system of justice. The court will continue to play a critical role in resolving complex disputes that are best suited to the formal justice system, while community based institutions and other alternative institutions could deal with other issues.

The Family Court

The Family Court plays an important role in Ekiti State, especially in protecting the interests of children and vulnerable adults. The State has a responsibility to ensure that children, victims of family violence, have access to the necessary legal mechanisms to protect their welfare and safety. The Family Court deals with families and children at highly stressful and sometimes risky times in their lives. It is vital that the Court operates effectively so that all involved can safely and securely move on with their lives.
However, the Family Court is facing a number of issues that compromise its ongoing sustainability and effectiveness, and reform is necessary. The issues include:

  • Parties and court processes losing sight of the needs of children
  • Confusion about the roles and responsibilities of the different professionals working in the Family Court.
  • The issue of space and working environment of judicial officers and staff
  • Relationship between Ekiti State judiciary and the Ministry of Women Affairs.
  1.  To address these issues the Ministry will undertake a review of the Family Court. The Review will identify changes that will reduce ongoing accommodation pressures and improve efficiency. The Ministry of Justice will work with the Chief Judge of Ekiti State to remove all obstacles to speedy dispensation of justice without jeopardising judicial independence. The reduction of case backlogs remains an important focus area. It has become more urgent that all citizens should experience a speedy and fair resolution of their disputes. The Ministry will work with the Judiciary to increase its capacity, streamline its system and processes to ensure that this happens.
  2. The Ministry will work with the office of the Chief Judge of Ekiti State to develop practice directions particularly in matters of administration of criminal justice. This includes issues relating to bail, fines, etc. We will appoint a Court liaison officer with a specific mandate to monitor the prosecution of cases in all courts in Ekiti State and receive complaints or commendations about the conduct of state counsel.
  3.  We will also propose the establishment of communication desks in Courts. The purpose of which is to provide a two way communication channel between the court and court users.
  4. We will provide capacity support to researchers in the state high court.
  5. We Will support participation of judicial officers in local and international training programmes.