Legal Nigeria

Kaduna govt unveils document on justice sector reform

The Kaduna State Government has inaugurated the state strategy document on justice reforms as part of efforts to build and nurture an efficient justice sector in the state.

Dr Hadiza Balarabe, the state deputy governor, unveiled the document on Wednesday in Kaduna.

According to her, reforming the justice sector is necessary to ensure the delivery of people-centred justice for citizens.

She noted that justice was a pillar of civilisation, a palladium of liberty, and a guarantee of due process.

“The institutions of justice protect rules-based order, safeguard the sanctity and predictability that enable individuals, businesses, and the wider society to function effectively.”

“Therefore, every responsible government is investing in the imperative of a strong legal framework, with effective and efficient institutions,” she said.

The deputy governor disclosed that the present administration in the state has, since 2015, anchored its reform agenda on many new laws and a few new agencies.

“While many legislations have been extensively and painstakingly reviewed and outmoded laws repealed, new laws have been enacted to reflect current realities, contemporary concerns, and best practices.”

“These laws effectively regulate several subject matters, such as crime, corruption, land use, and taxation, among others.

“The laws also help to enhance the capacity of various agencies to improve service delivery,” Balarabe said.

She said that the government’s desire to pursue a vibrant and functional justice system made it domesticate the Justice Policy in 2018, which served as its roadmap for ongoing reforms.

According to her, in 2017, Kaduna became the first state in the North to domesticate the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, which repealed the Criminal Procedure Code used throughout the region.

“We also enacted a model Penal Code Law in furtherance of agreements among the northern states regarding the desirability of such a step.

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“Under our watch, the Kaduna state government has taken several steps to strengthen critical institutions across the justice sector.

“These included the employment of 70 state counsel, the creation of more magistrate courts, and the work of additional magistrates, increasing the jurisdiction of magistrates in monetary claims from N500,000 to N5 million.

“Others are the creation of small claims courts to expedite adjudication on financial claims and speedy resolution for debt and disputes involving the recovery of monies.

“Creation of Mediation Center in the Ministry of Justice and in the three senatorial zones in the state that offer free legal services to the indigent.”

She revealed that the government had also set up Sexual Assault Referral Centers to cater for victims of sexual-related offences, providing psycho-counselling, forensic examination, medical treatment, and legal services for victims of sexual assault.

“All these reform interventions are designed to improve the quality of justice and reduce the barriers to service delivery.

“The Kaduna state justice policy and the reforms undertaken so far reflect the ideals the Hague Institute for Innovation in Law promotes, especially people-centred justice,” the deputy governor added.

In his remarks, the state’s acting chief judge, Justice Mu`azu Aliyu, said the state had conducted a justice needs survey in 2018.

He said the strategy document on transformational justice will make justice accessible and affordable for the people.

“I believe that his excellency will facilitate the effective implementation of the justice transformation strategy document as a sure way to people-centred justice in the state,” he said.

On her part, Maryam Abba, Operations Officer, Hague Institute for Innovation of Law, said the strategy document was the outcome of interactions with various stakeholders.

She said that the document addressed concerns with respect to police, crime, and money.

credit: PM News