By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved a Justice Sector Policy as part of deliberate efforts to reform the nation judicial sector for easy access to justice in the country.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami disclosed this when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of the Council meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the minister, the policy will ensure speedy determination of justice, enhance quality of justice as well as access to justice.
“From the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, two memos were presented for consideration of the Council. The first memo that was taken was a memorandum relating to administration of justice which was about having in place a justice sector reform policy.
“It is a blueprint that sets out a clear vision, objective and interventions for the reform of the justice sector to engender fair, efficient and transparent administration of justice.
“The intention and desire was to have a justice sector reform package that would turn things around for the better as far as the administration of justice is concerned.
“Turn things around relating to access to justice; turn things around relating to speedy administration of justice and turn things around for the purpose of ensuring at the end of the day that we have a consensus approach to the administration of justice.
“So, what was presented in that respect by the Office of the Attorney-General was a policy package that has been worked upon by the executive, judiciary, legislature and multi-dimensional institutions and stakeholders coming about with a roadmap as it relates to speedy administration of justice,’’ he said.
According to him, the three arms of government as well as the Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been over time working on roadmap that was a product of this policy.
He said: “So, what we have in place by way of administration of criminal justice act at a time, which was intended to ensure that we have speedy determination of cases before the court, was indeed a product of that understanding.
“What we had by way of a legislation relating to the Correctional Service Act was indeed a product of that understanding and the same thing with the executive orders that were put in place. So the intention is to work together for the purpose of assisting the justice sector.’’
Malami also revealed that Council approved a memo seeking to repeal the Geneva Convention and re-enact it to “accord greater access to justice by prisoners of war.”
According to the minister, it appears that Nigeria was behind the rest of the world in terms of according prisoners of war certain rights and privileges.
“Geneva Convention, which is accommodated in our laws as `Geneva Convention Act, G3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004’ is a convention that was designed to provide protection to prisoners of wars; to people involve in arm conflicts and associated infractions, for example,’’ he added.