By EBERE AGOZIE
ABUJA- The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has called for collaboration between States and the Federal Government in terms of prosecution and other means of combatting insecurity.
Malami made the call in his opening remarks at the conference of Attorneys-General in Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.
“The fight against insecurity should not be left to the Federal Government especially for offences falling withing the jurisdiction of the States.
“The instant Conference should also afford us the opportunity to determine the milestone we have been able to cover on curbing Sexual and Gender Based Violence since our previous commitments were made in 2017.
”In our quest to implement reforms in the administration of justice, a critical determinant factor remains adequate funding for the judiciary which also entails compliance with the provisions of the Constitution on financial autonomy for the judiciary and State legislatures, as a mark of our true and holistic commitment to the ideals of democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
He noted that the conference with the theme `Enhancing Synergy Between the Federal and State Governments in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria” underpinned one of the major anchors of Nigeria’s democratic life.
“Our enviable positions as Chief Law Officers automatically confers on us the status of stakeholders in the administration of both civil and criminal justice in Nigeria.
“With this prestigious position also comes the onerous responsibility of ensuring that all institutions and officers of the state contribute their quota to ensuring that our legal system meets the expectations and desires of our citizens for the justice sector.
“In the discharge of our responsibilities as Chief Law Officers, we should always be guided by the abiding framework under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, as enunciated under Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which covers every facet of governance and our national life’’.
He noted that the structure and system of governance of the Federation are not oblivious of the possibility of having genuine disputes and frictions among the federating units, national and sub-national governments.
“In spite of this, our shared values and common resources also make collaboration and mutual relationships absolutely necessary and fundamental.
“Therefore, this august body of Attorneys-General occupies a critical position in driving national unity and development.
“We need to underplay the culture of mutual mistrust between the Federal and State Governments, in order to promote and enhance a symbiotic relationship between the Federal and State Governments.
“Our agenda here is to examine some of the issues militating against the desired synergy in the administration of justice and proffer practical ways forward.
“While we presently have quite a number of such issues at different stages of judicial adjudication; it is not out of place if we jointly take a second look at these issues, with a view to achieving mutual resolution without prejudice to subsisting legal rights’’.
Malami said that synergy will sustain the brotherliness, bring professional calling to bear on governance and reduce tension or frictions.
“This will properly project the State and Federal Governments as partners and not competitors.
“I challenge us also to focus on identifying areas of peer review and synergy in our legal system in terms of legislations, policies, procedures, capacity building, funding structures or facilities, among others, which can either be replicated or improved upon by us all.
“We convened a National Summit on Justice in August 2017 to developed and adopted, as a formidable reform blueprint, after consultations with various stakeholders including the members of this Body, development partners and the Civil Society Organizations.
“The policy was designed to provide opportunities and platforms for strengthening collaboration, coordination, and consensus-building among the Justice Sector Institutions.
“The policy will enhance effective service delivery and promoting the rule of law and socio-economic development, without compromising the rights of the States; the doctrine of covering the field and the applicable boundaries of our federal system of government’’.
He solicited the support of states to key into the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which has now proceeded into its second phase; spanning from 2022 – 2026.
“There is no doubt that the support of the states is required for effective implementation and to increase the tempo of the war against corruption.(NAN)