The Federal Government is working with relevant stakeholders to develop guidelines for prosecutors on corruption and other criminal cases, the Solicitor General of the Federation (AGF) and Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Beatrice Jeddy-Agba, has said.

The Solicitor General spoke yesterday in Abuja at a two-day training for the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) Rangers on the implementation of the ACJA and Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJL) of the various states.

The workshop, organised by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, is the first in a series of such training for ACJA/ACJL advocates nationwide.

Represented by Mrs. Leticia Ayoola-Daniels, a director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Jeddy-Agba explained that plea bargain, which is one of the key innovations in the ACJA 2015, is aimed at ensuring speedy dispensation of criminal justice in the country.

The Solicitor General said the development of the guidelines, named: “Plea Bargaining and Compounding of Offences Guidelines for Federal Prosecutors, 2022,” is one of the strategic interventions by the Federal Ministry of Justice to eliminate delay and ensure prompt justice dispensation.

“The guidelines are intended to promote consistency of practice in plea bargaining and compounding of offences, boost public confidence in the process, and enhance efficiency of the criminal justice system for orderly, predictable, uniform, consistent and timely resolution of criminal matters,” she said.

Mrs. Jeddy-Agba added that besides the plea bargain guidelines, the Federal Government had partnered key stakeholders in the Justice sector to introduce the non-custodial sentencing option as well as establish two virtual courtrooms at the Kuje Prison in Abuja to address the problem of congestion in prisons.

A Professor of Law and CSLS President Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN) decried the poor implementation of the ACJA and other laws in the country.

Akinseye-George, whose speech was read by the CSLS Vice President, Mrs. Olaide Akinseye-George, expressed displeasure that despite being domesticated in 33 out of the nation’s 36 states, the implementation of the ACJA/ACJL was not encouraging.

He said: “You will agree with me that passing a law is one thing, but applying it effectively is another thing. Our problem in this country is not the lack of good laws but the lack of effective implementation or enforcement of our laws.

“Indeed, I make bold to say that a weak law which is properly implemented is better than a good law which is left on the shelf to gather dust.”

Prof. Akinseye-George stressed that it was for these reasons the CSLS came up with the idea of identifying stakeholders who could be specially trained and deployed in their different states to advocate, motivate, champion or otherwise promote the proper implementation of ACJA and ACJL in the states.

According to him, for the ACJA to be effective, all members of the public must play their roles effectively and provide support for law enforcement personnel.

The objective of the training, the CSLS president stressed, is to inculcate in the participants improved knowledge of the ACJA/ACJL and to motivate them to take up the task of looking out for ways of ensuring compliance with the law by law enforcement personnel and other stakeholders of the system of criminal justice administration.

“Through this CSLS proposes to train at least 370 persons consisting of about 10 from each of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT,” Prof. Akinseye-George said.