Some experts in United States and key stakeholders in Nigeria’s criminal justice system say the establishment of a database to reform and drive efficiency in the delivery of justice in the country.
The experts drawn from criminal justice sector and law enforcement agencies made this call at a workshop on the Justice Sector Assessment (JSA) in Abuja.
The workshop was organised by Partners Global, Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI) in collaboration with ACJMC.
They said the country’s criminal justice system is confronted with various challenges including: manual collection of data, delayed and pro-longed trials, flouting of court orders by law enforcement agencies, congested prisons and detention centres, lack on non-custodial sentencing, and the absence of a database among others.
Speaking, Stefan LoBuhlio, a US expert in corrections, re-entry and criminal justice, said the main gap in Nigeria’s justice system that needs to be filled is information technology and intelligence sharing.
According to LoBuglio, lack of a national criminal justice data base prevents agencies to be as efficient as they could be.
“Better record keeping will lead to expedited case disposition, it would lead to more individuals being released, better pre-trial services and some relief in prison decongestion. It would also lead to better human rights,” he said.
He said the JSA process which is being launched in the federal capital territory (FCT) will be based on a successful template that have been tested in the United States, which will be that of data gathering, both qualitative and quantitative to improve justice system.
He however, commended the Nigerian government for re-orientating the correctional service to one focused on rehabilitation.
LoBuglio also applauded the stakeholders at the meeting for their passion and interest to support the JSA.
He said: “Nigeria have very committed and passionate individual who want to see a fair criminal justice system and also have some very strong criminal agencies that are blazing a path forward and I would say we have been particularly impressed.”
Also speaking, Sulayman Dawodu, secretary of the ACJMC, said Nigeria needs to establish a database so as to track the delivery of justice to Nigerians.
Dawodu said lack of data results in lack of direction in the administration of criminal justice in the country.
“There must be record keeping in the criminal justice and this record will also create a data base that is needed for you to look back and access clearly what is going wrong within the system and what ha been done,” he said.
“By the time you collate information or data, you will see clearly where you are, you will see what is going wrong and then you can take steps. But we are going motionless, no direction, we are just doing it day in day out without record of what is going on.
“Meanwhile, you should be able to tell how many people have been arrested at a given point, what offences they were arrested for, to know what the trend is and be able to know how many people are getting bail and on what condition. The lack of data base makes you directionless, you cannot make policy changes that is well informed.”
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