Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom Government for sustaining its support to the country, even as he lauded the implementation of the Justice For All (J4A) programme, saying that it has shaped the Justice Sector reforms of Nigeria.
Osinbajo, who stated this while delivering a Keynote speech at a Close-out and Valedictory Programme of the Justice For All, held in Abuja Thursday, also described the programme as well thought-out and impactful.
The Acting President who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye, urged the United Kingdom government’s Department for International Development (DFID) not to relent in its support to good governance and justice sector reforms in Nigeria.
“The J4a programme is well-thought out. Its effects are being felt. What we are working on now is to ensure that the initiatives of the programme are institutionalized in our systems. The J4a model is what we are following in our Police reforms today.
“The Case Management and Information Communication Technology (ICT) in use today in the Justice sector is a J4a initiative. We need to ensure that it is adopted in every part of the country. J4a supported the Police Complaint Response Unit and today, they are achieving results.”
Speaking on sustainability, the Vice President stressed: “I hope the closure of the J4a will not be the end of support to the laudable initiatives.”
He commended the J4a team, led by Dr. Bob Arnot for what he described as their outstanding performance, urging them not to relent in their service to the nation.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye was full of praises for the J4A programme, describing it as exemplary.
“It supported a whole range of measures in the area of economic justice, notably the improvement of service delivery in commercial courts. Starting with a baseline survey on the progress of cases in commercial courts, needs assessment of those courts, capacity building for judges who preside over the courts, infrastructure support to improve service delivery such as the furnishing of the Fast Track Court Registry and the monthly progress monitoring, Lagos Judiciary improved incrementally from one level to another.”
“To ensure this worked seamlessly and is sustainable, the judiciary created a separate registry for fast track cases with the encouragement and financial support of J4A.”
He gave credit of the early achievements recorded by the PACAC Committee to the support it got from the J4a Project.
“J4A recognized the importance of co-ordination and co-operation amongst justice sector institutions. It thus supported the creation of a platform through which regular engagement and interaction could talk place. This initiative in my view is a major legacy.
“I can say this now because PACAC borrowed from this model by recommending to government a high level inter agency platform for conversation on the anti-corruption issue. J4A, without doubt, has been of immense benefit to Nigeria in all of the thematic areas of focus.”
In his presentation on: J4a: The Journey, Achievements, Experiences, Lessons and Legacy, Portfolio Lead for Justice Security and Conflict in Sub Saharan Africa for the British Council, Dr. Bob Arnot explained that the programme was organized around four components: Policing and Security; Justice, Anti-Corruption and Cross-Sector Coordination.
Speaking on the scope and methodology of the project, Arnot explained: “the programme worked at federal level plus five focal states (Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Jigawa) & FCT. Models based upon best practice were to be replicated, disseminated and sustained; working in the formal and informal sectors.”
He further explained that the ultimate aim of the programme was to create: “a more capable, accountable, responsive and integrated justice sector that is fair, equitable and accessible with sustainable reform momentum creating growing user confidence and respect amongst Nigerians.”
On successes recorded by the Policing component, Arnot, a former National Programme Manager of the J4a, enumerated them to include: “Work in 7 states affected 44.8 million people by introducing Community-based Policing (CBP) in Model Police Stations (MPS); introduced 12 modern police stations with 177 interventions and 645 replications; engaged with more than 100 police divisions and trained over 5000 Police officers.”
“J4A states citizen’s satisfaction with police up from 40% in 2011 to 59% in 2012; a total of 776 VPS leaders trained in leadership skills and over 1000 operatives have been trained in conflict management skills”
In the Justice component, Arnot explains: J4A worked with 26 pilot Magistrates, Sharia and Customary Courts in 3 states (disposal time reduced by 30%) equal to saving over 900,000 days in court. Since 2012, nearly 1,400 Traditional Rulers in two states have been trained on human rights, dispute resolution and record keeping. It is estimated that over 400,000 citizens will have benefited from the traditional rulers’ enhanced skills.”