Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun (SAN)(NPOM), the former Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University(LASU), Ojo, emphasised that political leadership was key to success of justice sector reforms in every state in Nigeria.
Fagbohun, Professor of Environmental Law made the assertion at the Wole Olanipekun & Co (WOC) Justice Summit 2021 titled “Implementing Justice Sector Reforms in Nigeria: Connecting The Disconnect” on Friday in Lagos.
WOC Justice Summit 2021 was to commemorate the 70th birthday of a great Statesman in the person of the Founder of WOC, Chief Wole Olanipekun(SAN).
He said that they were important because the implementation of the reform was dependent on the state.
“There are a number of justice sector reforms that have been introduced, but which are yet to be implemented.
“A case in point is the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019, which replaced the Prison Act.
“Although the Act has been acknowledged by many as an important step towards reform, a number of its provisions are yet to be implemented,” Fagbohun said.
He added that there were reforms in other areas relating to the justice sector that were still pending several years after their success on paper as laudable initiatives were celebrated.
Fagbohun said that such reforms were; examine what legal barriers are constituting obstacles to effective implementation.
“Establish an arrangement for effective sharing of information on gaps in implementation.
“Promote cooperation to address duplication or overlapping requirements.
“Ensure that adequate resources are made available to relevant authorities to achieve timely implementation of reforms,” he said.
Fagbohun said that discussions at this year’s summit would cover a mixed range of issues such as integrity, diversity, inclusion, merit in judicial appointments and justice delivery
“A recent summation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2021) captures it in a way that calls for sober reflection.
“The justice system in Nigeria, despite laudable reform efforts at federal and state levels, continues to face multiple challenges coordination across police, Attorney-General offices, law enforcement agencies, Judiciary, Legal Aid, the Nigerian Prison Service.
“As well as a large number of civil society organizations active in the justice sector remains complex.
“Moreover, all efforts extended by the Government including with the assistance of UNODC, to strengthen integrity within the justice sector, while promising, have yet to achieve full sustainability,” he said.
Fagboun called that the goal of justice sector reforms was to enable the law to achieve substantial justice.
“Justice is the goal and the spirit of the law; consequently, there is no reason why a court should not administer justice in every situation, and according to law.
“The burden of justice is beyond the attributes of impartiality, equity, or fairness of the judge which we most times try to generalize as justice.
“The reality confronting Nigeria at the moment is that lack of enthusiasm for justice within the justice sector has outpaced holistic justice.
“In the final analysis, for as long as the justice sector fails to implement reforms that translate to real justice, the force of equity and fairness will itself incite changes in ways that are radical and beyond what we can generally anticipate,” he said.
Fagbohun described Chief Wole Olanipekun as a truly outstanding Nigerian because characteristics that had defined your fame and spread your reputation over the years were carved in personal courage, hard work, determination.
“Others include; confidence, straight and forthright approach to issues, quick wit, matchless grit, lucidity of thought and expression, practical wisdom and a love for humanity,” he said.