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Atiku, Judges Advocate Reforms of Nigeria’s Justice System

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By Ruth Bamidele, Lagos

 Former Vice President of Nigeria, Alh. Atiku Abubakar has stressed the need for the reforms of the nation’s justice system noting that such reforms would decongest the prisons and ensure speedy hearing of cases for suspects awaiting trials.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

Atiku made the call on Friday at a book launch in Lagos in honuor of the Chief Judge of Lagos Justice Ayotunde Phillips.

The former Vice President who was represented by Prof. Gidado said:  ‘‘It is obvious to most Nigerians that the nation’s criminal justice system is seriously in need of reform. Our prisons are busting not only with convicted criminal but also with accused persons awaiting trial. Trials are unduly delayed, frivolous injunctions and technicalities are imposed all to delay and subvert the cause of justice.”

 Agreeing with Atiku on the prison reforms, the Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Ayotunde Phillips called on the National Assembly to remove the administration of prison system from the exclusive list to concurrent list.

Justice Phillips argued that there is no reason why State government should not be allowed to build prisons and have control over their management lamenting that the numbers of prisoners kept increasing on daily basis even though she has released hundreds of prisoners from prison.

She noted the implementation of the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court Law would further improve the magistracy in the State.

Also, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, George Adesola Oguntade condemned the criminal justice system saying ‘’it’s too cumbersome and time wasting’’.

Justice Oguntade noted that there were many things wrong with the nation’s criminal justice system and expressed the hope the book will be useful in attempt to reform the criminal justice system in the country.”

In his own remarks, the chief presenter of the book, Jimoh Ibrahim described the Lagos state Chief Judge as a brilliant and hardworking jurist.

His words: ‘‘we are all very proud of the Lagos judiciary, your judgements are Primus inter pares (first among equals) when compared with other judgments in any part of the country.”

Mr Ibrahim bought 400 copies of the book to be distributed to all the High Courts and Magistrate courts in Lagos and Ondo State.

The book titled A Reformatory Approach to the Criminal Justice System in Nigeria was written by Oluseyi Adetona and Dare Oketade in honour of the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Philips.

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