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The road map to Justice Sector Reform in Nigeria-NBA 7 Point Statement to the Honorable Attorney- General and Minister of Justice

July 8, 2009

Image removed.Presented by Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN  President Nigeria Bar Association on the occasion of the courtesy visit of the NBA National Executive Committee to the Honorable Minister of Justice on July 6th 2009   


NBA notes the joint initiative of the NBA Rule of Law Action Group, the office of the HAGF and the DFID,  on the Rule of Law summit scheduled to hold later this month. NBA’s participation in the summit is based on the need to achieve clarification and shared understanding of this concept specifically as it relates to:

*    Administration of justice
*    Anti-Corruption
*    Independence of the Judiciary
*    Respect for Fundamental Human Rights

We will participate fully in this summit as well as in any future activities from the summit.

The NBA is concerned that the Administration of Justice Commission has not been resuscitated till date inspite of the effort of the Bar in persuading the HAGF and CJN to resuscitate it. The NBA is committed to the reform and effective management of the justice sector, hence our interest in the Administration of Justice Commission.

The Commission as the AGF knows full well was established by the Administration of Justice Commission Act 1991; Cap A3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. It is charged with the duty of supervising and monitoring activities of key institutions of the justice sector.

The Commission the NBA believes should be established urgently. The Commission will provide an excellent platform to institutionalize the very many Justice Sector reforms initiatives across Nigeria which is supported by Donor Agencies, the Federal Government, World Bank, etc. May I propose that as an initial step the NBA and the HAGF agree on the need for the establishment of the Commission and thereafter approach the CJN jointly for further action.

Further NBA urges the HAGF to share the FGN agenda for reforms in the administration of justice, with it. This is to   enhance our active participation and collaboration in the implementation.


NBA is concerned that the major justice sector reform legislation in the National Assembly are private member bills. These bills include:

*    Prisons Act Amendment Bill
*    National Human Rights Commission Act Amendment Bill
*    Legal Aid Council Act Amendment Bill
*    Evidence Act Amendment Bill
*    Community Service Bill

NBA is concerned that the slow passage of these bills may not be unconnected with a perceived lack of interest by the executive. Indeed the Prison bill has been in the National Assembly since 2001.

NBA proposes that the HAGF considers hosting an urgent roundtable with Chairmen of key justice committees in the National Assembly and the NBA. Specifically we propose that this meeting be held during the Rule of Law summit.


NBA notes the intervention of the FGN in prisons and police reform. NBA specifically notes the FGN prison decongestion project. The NBA has received complaints from the generality of its members on the operation of Scheme in the Ministry of Justice. As resolved at our NEC meeting in Sokoto we decry the corruption & malpractices inherent in the Prison decongestion briefs at the Federal Ministry of Justice. We call on the Attorney-General to put his own house in order in this regards

The frequent jail breaks and prison unrest (the most recent in Enugu) is an indication of the need for further intervention. It is the view of the NBA that prison unrest is no longer only a justice issue but that of national security. Specifically, in addition to urging the HAGF to support the timely passage of the Prisons Bill, the NBA is proposing that the HAGF in collaboration with the NBA considers setting up an Independent monitoring group of all places of detention. The monitoring group will be mandated to visit all places of detention, provide quarterly briefings to the HAGF and the NBA to enable urgent action in needy cases. Our primary concern is to persons who ordinarily should not be in prison or detained in police cells. The NBA will commit to playing a key role in this initiative.


We reiterate the resolution of our NEC in Sokoto and restate our call for full probe and revelation of those involved in the Halliburton scam in the interest of good governance. We call on the HAGF as the official leader of the Bar in Nigeria to desist from actions which the Bar view as cog in the wheel of the crusade against corruption, such actions will not only demystified the office of the Attorney-General but embarrass the entire Bar.


In addition to the passage of the National Human Rights Commission Amendment Act, NBA enjoins the HAGF to support ongoing NBA efforts aimed at reviewing the Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules.  Presently, the NBA has engaged the CJN in a discussion on this and we are of the view that support from the office of the HAGF will further ensure its urgent review.


NBA is aware that the office of the HAGF has concluded a review of Investment Laws in Nigeria with the submission of the report of Professor Owasanoye, NBA will like to seek clarification on the current situation including further administrative and legislative measures that need to be taken to enable its enactment into law.


Can I on behalf of the generality of our members invite you to participate in the NBA Annual Conference to be held in Lagos in August 2009. This conference will be the largest gathering of lawyers in Nigeria and I look forward personally receiving you.

Finally, I want to thank you for this meeting and we look forward to fruitful collaboration and dialogue on all the issues raised.

@Office of the President, NBA
6TH July 2009

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