Law News
Stakeholders, others chart path for improved justice system

THE length of time it takes to deal with cases within the justice system has been a source of concern to many Nigerians. To this end, a two day workshop tagged: “Case Management System (CMS)” was organised in Awka to chart path for effective tracking, mangement and quick dispensation of cases in Nigeria’s courts.

The workshop was organised by the Department for International Development (DFID), Enugu Office in collaboration with Justice for All (J4A) for top police officers, ministry of justice, the judiciary, Prisions, Legal Aid Council and Non governmental Organisations in the South East Zone.

Speaking at the event, the chief registrar, Customary Court of Appeal, Enugu, Chief Tom Anyafulede identified various reasons why cases linger in a courts. According to him, they includ sudden transfer of cases or the judges, constant adjournments as a result of excuses by lawyers, adjournement of court sittings as well as resolving cases using alternative means such as visiting shrines which when it fails, parties concerned return to the court.

He disclosed that such CMS reforms has been running in Enugu Judiciary System. He said in Enugu, they use data systems to track when a case is filed, sex of parties, age, expected date for disposal and others, arguing that the method has greatley reduced the duration of disposal of cases. “What is recorded is the activities in the system, and monitoring transactions on daily bases”, he said, insisting that the system provides overall information needed in the court.

He added that the CMS has equally helped to curb situations where litigants were charged exorbitant fees as well as ensuring that hearing of cases are fixed at intervals of two weeks with a minimal cost.

Speaking to the Guardian, the Regional Cordinator (DFID), South East/South Zone, Olachi Chuks-Romine explained that the objective is to give justice to the poor, adding that the Agency has contributed a lot towards improvement of justice delivery in Nigeria.

Chuks-Romine said: “DFID aims to organise experience sharing sessions, bring justice sector institutions together to exchange ideas.  These experiences already enjoyed in Enugu State would be replicated in other South East states, especailly encouraging participants to understand how to speed up disepensation of justice and reduce the number of days for people awaiting trial.

‘’Evidence shows that the number of periods (days) it takes for a case to be disposed of is long. The whole process involves the Police, ministry of justice, the judiciary, prisons and others.

‘’If policemen reduce the number of time it takes to charge a case to court, the ministtry reduces time it takes writing legal opinion, and time to bring the suspect to court is reduced, the problem of disoensing cases will be greatly solved and it will become easier for them to plan and manage the legal system”.

In his speech, the Technical lead of J4A, Jeff Ansell urged participants to translate whatever experience or knowledge they gained from the workshop into action.

In an interview at the sidelines, the director, public prosecution, Ministry of Justice, Enugu State, Barr. Clem Eze warned that the police are not supposed to detain a suspect  for more than 48 hours, reminfind that the law states that an accused must be charged to court within that time, unless it invloves murder, manslaughter, rape and other serious crimes which requires thorough investigation.

“CMS  is a system for gathering information, tracking of issues in a particular case…, it helps for quick and effective management of case files and helps to reduce duration of cases, adding that other states should key into the system and adopt it. The workshop will help to showcase the experience and the achievements in the justice sector and as such sell the ideas of Enugu State CMS to others”, he stated.

In separate views, some participants urged DFID to sustain the workshop and take it to other zones in Nigeria in order to educate concerned stakeholders on the need to fast-track  cases in Nigerian courts by inviting allagencies invloved in case management.  They commended the organisers for such noble event.

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