JOE EFFIONG, UYO
The Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community has advocated for the establishment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), saying it would decongest about 3,000 inmates currently held in the Nigeria Correctional Service in the state.
The group said for failing to domesticate the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) passed in 2015 by the National Assembly, Akwa Ibom has lost six years in real time, and over 25 years in virtual time reality in justice administration in the State.
In a communique issued by the group on Tuesday in Uyo and signed by the National Coordinator and Secretary, Clifford Thomas and Enobong Ekot, respectively, it said thousands of persons have been denied the freedom by the failure of the state to domesticate the law.
The group stated that the ACJL will help to facilitate the delivery of criminal justice in the state, and called on Governor Udom Emmanuel and the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to ensure the ACJL becomes law.
“Since 2015 when the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) was passed by the National Assembly, it was incumbent for the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to pass the State version, so that there would be speedy justice delivery in the justice delivery system in the State.
“The State has lost six years in real time, and over 25 years in virtual time reality in justice administration in the State.
“Several persons in their thousands are presently denied their freedom of movement and other fundamental freedoms they should enjoy under chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
“About 3,000 inmates are wallowing in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service in their four holding centers in Akwa Ibom State.
“The passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and the accent of same into Law by the Executive Governor of the State, will help the criminal justice delivery system in the State,” the communique read.
The group further advocated the establishment of a Court of Apeal in the state, saying 80 percent of matters at the Court of Apeal in Calabar, Cross River State have their origin from Akwa Ibom.
It stated that several appealable criminal matters in Akwa Ibom cannot go to the Apeal Court in Calabar, because of the huge cost involved, adding that “indigent convicts must cough out about N300,000 for the compilation of the initiating documents for the court.
“More than 100 persons sentenced to death or life imprisonment who would ordinarily have appealed their matters, cannot apeal such matters.
“To establish a Court of Appeal in Uyo will drastically reduce the unattended and unappealable matters on ground, and bring about the speedy dispensation of justice,” the communique said.