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Editor's PickKalu’s bill seeks to amend administration of criminal justice

Kalu’s bill seeks to amend administration of criminal justice

OrderPaperToday – Senator representing Abia North senatorial district, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu has asked the Senate to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

This is contained in a bill he sponsored which scaled second reading at the Senate on Wednesday.

Recall that the bill passed first reading in senate on 30 June, 2020.

Leading the debate, Kalu said the bill seeks to amend those sections of the Act which contradict the principles of fair hearing and impinges on court jurisdiction as provided in the Constitution, saying “this is to further avert some loggerheads between the administration of criminal justice Act and the constitution.”

He recommended that Section 8 (4) of the Principal Act which provides for “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 by deleting “unless otherwise stated in this Act” by inserting “the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The reason for this, according to him, is that the Constitution is the Supreme law of the land which provides in section 1(1) as follows: “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).

“Each legal norm of the society drives its validity from the basic norm. Any other law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution must-give way or abate.”

On the issue of jurisdiction of the court, the senator said “Section 253 of the Constitution provides that ‘the Federal High Court shall be duly constituted if it consists of at least one Judge of that Court’.

“Section 273 provides “for the purpose of exercising any jurisdiction conferred upon it under this constitution or any law, a High Court of a State shall be duly constituted if it consist of at least one Judge of that Court.

“The various High Court Rules and Court of Appeal Rules have provisions with regards to the position of pending cases when judges are elevated.

“Courts are classified according to the Constitution and other extent laws. We should clearly demarcate or spell out the jurisdiction of the court to avoid contradiction and uncertainty.

“We can set lofty goals for ourselves. I hope we can agree that, with this amendment, we aspire to create a criminal justice administration legislation that is both more effective and more humane; to 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.

The bill, after scaling second reading, was referred to the Committee on Human Right and Legal Matters for further legislative inputs.

Ojochenemi Onje-James
Ojochenemi Onje-James
Ojochenemi Onje-James is a research writer and journalist with years of proven footprints in areas of crime and politics. She has M.Sc in International Relations and Strategic Studies; and B.Sc in Mass Communication.
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