Enugu state making changes in the justice sector

Monday 22 September 2014

The Justice for All programme has worked extensively in Enugu state with the strong support of the state government. In a recent interview with the Attorney General of Enugu State, Honourable Anthony Ani, he identified some of the key interventions, its linkages and their impact.

He said the J4A-supported computerised Case Management System (CMS) has made the biggest impact in the criminal justice system in Enugu state. It has improved the collaboration between the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) and the Customary Courts (CCs) in identifying long-term cases of Awaiting Trial Prisoners (ATP) and establishing an effective oversight mechanism.

In the MoJ, the CMS keeps tracks of all files and cases in court, while sanctions can be taken by the attorney general against lawyers that perform their duties poorly. This has made lawyers more accountable for their files, which has led to a reduction in the backlog of cases.

The CC systems, usually in the rural areas, are more capable and effective as a result of J4A's effort at providing access to justice to poor community members. This was achieved through training and mentoring of some CC judges, which is now being replicated by Enugu State.

“People have more confidence in the Customary Court System and they are now handling more cases than ever before.”

He also said that the Clearing House project, implemented through the CSO PRAWA, has also proved valuable. J4A’s response was to bridge the gap in the system by providing a system that gave prisoners access to pro bono lawyers.

“Gone are the days when prosecution is frustrated by the accused in a capital case because he has no lawyer.”

The Enugu Justice Sector Reform Team (ESJRT), a J4A initiative, has contributed to driving reform efforts within the sector. The MoJ is now funding the activities of the ESJRT and will continue doing so as part of its annual budget. 

J4A’s support of the Voluntary Policing Sector (VPS) is making a difference in Enugu state as people now feel safer. One major impact of the project is the ability of the VPS to gather information on possible breaches of the peace.