The passage of the bill into law, according to HRAN, marks a milestone in the fight to cleanse the criminal justice system as it will drastically address many challenges in the administration of criminal justice at the federal level and in the FCT.
“The ACJ Act will ensure the speedy dispensation of justice, protection of society from crime and the protection of the rights and interests of both the defendant and the victim.
“The new Act, which merges the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act (applicable in the South) and the Criminal Procedure Code (applicable in the North) into one principal
Federal Act, is intended to apply uniformly in all Federal Courts across the country”, HRAN said.
The ACJ Act, it was gathered, also has great potential to substantially reduce the number of persons in custody while awaiting trial as one of the many innovative provisions of the bill requires the Comptroller General of Prisons to provide quarterly reports to the Chief Judge and the Attorney General of the Federation on all persons awaiting trial that have been held in custody for more than 180 days. The Chief Judge and the Attorney General are then required to take such steps as are necessary to address the issues raised in the report in furtherance of the objectives of the ACJ Bill.
The network commended all law makers who have supported the Bill both in the House of Representatives and Senate, particularly the Chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Senator Umaru Dahiru, who personally demonstrated commitment to the passing of the bill over the years.
The journey on the ACJ Bill started in 2004-05 with the National Working Group on the Reform of Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria, which was chaired by HRAN’s current chair and was set up by the then Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo SAN, with financial support of John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.