OrderPaperToday – The Senate has passed the Witness Protection and Management Bill, 2022, following the consideration of a report by its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) presented the report before the Upper Legislative Chamber during its plenary on Wednesday.
In his presentation, Senator Opeyemi noted that the bill was read for the first time on February 23, 2021, and a second time on January 25, 2022.
According to the lawmaker, “witness protection programme is a universally accepted concept that is aimed at unravelling highly organised criminal activities with the help of persons who are willing to volunteer information, evidence and other forms of assistance to law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of crimes.”
He stated that the bill if enacted, will address a major lacuna in our justice system as there are no extant laws in place, which are comprehensive and specific enough to address what this Bill seeks to achieve.
“The programme is essential in upholding and maintaining the principles of rule of law in accordance with the policy thrust of this administration;
The protection programme is all-encompassing as it also includes physical protection such as relocation as well as enabling the witnesses to testify in a manner that ensures their safety, especially where the cooperation of the witness is critical to the prosecution of cases in line with Article 24 of the Organised Crime Convention 2004.
The programme will ensure a balance between the safety of the witness and defendants as well as sustain and guarantee their constitutional rights to a fair hearing in trials;
The programme will permit the witness to testify in a judicial setting or cooperate with law enforcement in investigation without fear or threat of intimidation or reprisal.
The passage of this Bill will provide an enabling environment and give effect to government’s policies that seek to enhance the administration of criminal justice and promote the fight against corruption.
The enactment of this bill would assist in unravelling organised criminal activities, which have posed major challenge to our corporate existence, growth and development as a country,” Opeyemi noted.
He further stated that the need to have this legislation in place, cannot be over-emphasised as it will give the needed impetus and credence to the current anti-corruption drive of this administration.
The Senate therefore passed the Witness Protection and Management Bill, 2022 (As Amended) after a clause-by-clause consideration by the Committee of the Whole.