Nigeria

Enugu chief judge pledges protection of human rights

The newly appointed acting Chief Judge of Enugu State, Raymond Ozoemena, has said the judiciary would uphold all measures to protect human rights in the state.

The newly appointed acting Chief Judge of Enugu State, Raymond Ozoemena, has said the judiciary would uphold all measures to protect human rights in the state.

The judiciary, he said, is committed to justice and fairness in the discharge of its duties and to do so, it will ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations receive their deserved justice and their victims, the appropriate remedy.

He made these comments while declaring open a three-day training on the Implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 and Human Rights for Officials of Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigeria Police Force and Judiciary, on Wednesday.

Mr Ozoemena was sworn in last week by the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, as the acting Chief Judge of Enugu State, following the retirement of Priscillia Emehelu.

In his address, the judge assured that Enugu State Judiciary, a committed partner, will continue to support and offer the required assistance in ensuring that the rights of Nigerians are not violated and the incidents of human rights abuses become a thing of the past.

He noted that through the engagement of stakeholders in the justice sector; the judiciary, its affiliate agencies and actors can achieve a very robust, fair and efficient criminal justice system.

“It is therefore very important that we continue to work together to ensure that we protect the rights of every individual in the society. This can only be achieved through an efficient and effective criminal justice administration.

“I implore all participants to fully engage the resource persons and other participants on the areas of concern to enable us to achieve a better and more efficient justice system,’’ he said.

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of UCHEFEM Consultancy Limited, Uche Owete, said the training was meant to increase interdependence, cross-sectorial coordination, competencies and capacities of major criminal justice actors to effect serious and durable changes in the sector.

“This is for the overall benefit of the Nigerian Correctional Service and the justice system,” he said.

Mr Owete also assured that shared responsibility by the actors with a view to changing the justice landscape and reducing human rights violations will be achieved through the training.

“Inculcate the use of alternatives to imprisonment by magistrates in criminal justice administration as a means of reducing congestion in our correctional facilities and pretrial detention and the treatment of vulnerable persons, including children.

“Ensure police observance of human rights standards during interrogation, detention and trial will be reduced drastically. We will also highlight in the course of the training, major innovations in criminal justice administration in Nigeria.”

On his part, the Controller General of Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, said over the years, delay has been a major impediment in the effective and speedy dispensation of criminal justice in Nigeria.

Mr Nababa, who was represented by the Commandant of Correctional Training School, Enugu, Y.A. Sambo, noted that concomitance of these delays lead to overcrowding of the custodial centres, as statistics indicate a staggering over 70 per cent of the total inmates’ population as awaiting trial persons.

“A peep into the ACJA Act indicates some novel and noble provisions put in place to ensure amongst others, speedy trial and quick disposal of criminal cases in the interest of all parties involved.

“These provisions are deliberate measures aimed at addressing these teething problems of unnecessarily prolonged criminal trials,” he said.

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