By Ikeugonna Eleke
Stakeholders in the justice delivery sector have called for synergy among members of the bar, the bench and law enforcement agencies, as a way of further deepening the dispensation of justice in Nigeria.
The calls came during the 26th Bar Week of the Awka Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which was held in Awka, the Anambra State Capital, recently.
Many stakeholders who spoke during the week-long event harped on the need to strengthen the justice administration system in the country, stating that a good partnership between all the stakeholders in the sector would help the country to achieve a robust sector.
This year’s Bar Week, with the theme: ”The Bar, The Bench and Law Enforcement Agencies: Time for Synergy in Nigeria’s Justice Administration”, had renowned human rights activist, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, as the keynote speaker.
Odinkalu during his keynote address said: ‘It is well possible to administer the law in a way that frustrates justice, just as these days many of our courts produce judgements without pretending to deliver justice.
‘This, naturally, has brought the system, processes and institutions of the justice sector into disrepute, with the result (being) that most citizens and court users are now more interested and invested in seeking extra-judicial than in judicial dispute resolution. This has in turn enabled vigilantism, self-help and jungle justice; enhancing insecurity and violence around the country.
‘I want to suggest that this gap between justice administration as a transaction and justice delivery as service compact fulfilment is at the heart of the failure of synergy that we complain about, and it is about twin failures of civic virtue and professional ethics.
‘Surely, if every actor in the justice system is going through the motions for the sake of profiting the pockets of achieving optimal subsistence, then there is no one actually interested in the real challenge of delivering justice.’
Several other speakers who spoke during the event on other topics, all related to how to enhance justice delivery in Nigeria. They included, Prof Chukwuemeka Ibe; Prof Ken Nwuba; Attah Ochinke; C.U. Mmuozoba and Dr Onyeka Aduma.
Earlier, the chairman of NBA, Awka Branch, Mr Ken Nwanna, stated that only few Nigerians could proudly beat their chest and proclaim their root as Nigeria, saying that this was principally because of failure in the justice administration system.
‘This failure has bred impunity. Court orders have been ignored and disobeyed, our judicial officers have been accused of some complicity; some have been harassed and embarrassed, and calls for better conditions of service have been ignored. It has become perennial and recurrent. That is why we think the best person to give insight to this is Prof Odinkalu, Nwanna explained.