A bill to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA of 2015 to make it more effective and humane has passed second reading on the floor of the Senate.
This followed the consideration of the general principles of the bill by the sponsor, Sen. Orji Uzo Kalu during plenary session.
The bill is entitled, ‘Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (Amendment) bill, 2020.
Senator Kalu in the lead debate said that the bill when amended would create a more effective and humane criminal justice administration.
“By more effective I mean that we should respond to crime in ways that produce socially desirable results—greater safety, less fear, less suffering, greater respect for the rule of law and less injustice.”
He noted that this would be the first time an attempt was made to amend the law since it became an Act in 2015.
“The bill seeks to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015; the sections contradicting the principles of fair hearing and court jurisdiction as provided in the Constitution.
“This is to further avert some loggerheads between the administration of criminal justice Act and the Constitution.”
The lawmaker listed some of the recommendations to include “That Section 8 (4) of the Principal Act which provides“The arraignment and trial of a suspect for a crime shall be in accordance with the provision of this Act unless otherwise stated in this Act” be amended.
“This Constitution is Supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In view of the above provision of the Constitution, all authorities in Nigeria shall conform to the Constitutional provision.
“Therefore the administration of criminal justice Act shall also conform with the supreme provision of the Constitution 1999 as amended.”
In his contribution Sen. Gabriel Suswan,representing Benue North said that it had become important to amend the criminal justice act.
“It is not just about amending some sections as proposed by the sponsor of the bill.
“There are a lot of mistakes in the Act and people have been unjustly convicted because of the mistakes that have been found in the Act but because they have not been challenged up to the Supreme Court.
“We now have the singular opportunity to as proposed here to correct those mistakes.”
Senator Suswan also said that most states had not domesticated the ACJA due to the fact that it had failed to meet up with the aspirations of the state.
President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan thereafter referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human rights and legal matters to report back within four weeks.