Thu. May 13th, 2021

2011-2021 is Nigeria’s ‘Decade Of Law-Making,’ –Osinbajo

2011-2021 is Nigeria’s ‘Decade Of Law-Making,’  –Osinbajo

Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) the Nigerian Vice President, today, described the 10 years leading to 2021 as the country’s ‘decade of law-making’ in terms of access to justice.

Professor Osinbajo observed that the decade had witnessed a raft of legislation geared at improving the criminal justice system and enabling better access to justice.

He said implementing these laws is “the only way” Nigeria can gradually attain a dream justice system, which will in turn promote peaceful coexistence.

The Vice President stated this at the launching of 2021 Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership (PILP) Pro Bono Week with the theme ‘Digitisation of access to justice.’

Osinbajo, who was represented at the virtual event by Deputy Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Ade Ipaye, noted that there was no perfect justice system in the world, but Nigeria must keep striving.

“Can the progress be faster? Yes, but we all must also learn to appreciate how far we have gone while sustaining that determination to go farther.

“If I were to describe the decade 2011 to 2021, in terms of access to justice, I would call it ‘a decade of law-making.’” Osinbajo said.

Justifying his claim, he identified several laws passed within the period.

Osinbajo said: “In 2011, a new Legal Aid Act came into force. In 2015, we got the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act. That same year, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was enacted…

“In August 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari also signed the Nigerian Correctional Service Bill into law. Aside the obvious changes of name from Nigerian Prison Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, there are several other significant developments brought about by that legislation…

“In September 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law in Nigeria the Police Reform Bill which addresses several issues affecting policing in Nigeria, including arrest and prosecutorial powers of the police, and the concept of community police…

“Considered together, all these laws, to all intents and purposes enacted towards giving Nigerians better access to justice, and generally improving the justice system”.

The Vice President’s comments followed the welcome address of the chairman of PILP’s board, Senator Daisy Danjuma.

Danjuma said this year’s events focuses on a wide variety of issues in the access to justice space, including the growing use of technology to enhance pro bono services particularly as a result of the pandemic, prison congestion, new developments in tackling sexual and gender-based violence and providing legal assistance to small business owners of limited means.

Other speakers scheduled for the three-day event include Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba; President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr Olumide Akpata, among many others.

The event will feature the launch of PILP’s online access to justice portal, an awards night, which will celebrate dedicated pro bono partners, free legal clinic, among others.

The PILP was conceived by the Lagos State Government in 2012, as a public-private partnership with the main objective of bridging the gap in access to justice by providing free quality legal services through a pro bono network for individuals and NGOs underserved by other public systems.

The scheme has since been incorporated as an NGO with a Board of Trustees which reflects the different stakeholders within the justice system.

“The impact of our work is best reflected in the number of people provided with quality legal help, over 3000 beneficiaries in 798 cases to date,” the organisers said in a statement on Monday.