By Walter Duru
The implementation of the Justice For All (J4A) programme, an initiative of the United Kingdom government’s Department for International Development (DFID), has been commended by Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Mr Osinbajo thanked the UK government for sustaining its support to the country, saying the justice sector has recorded reforms as a result of the support.
The Acting President, while delivering a keynote speech at a close-out and valedictory programme of the Justice For All, held in Abuja on Thursday, also described the programme as well thought-out and impactful.
The Acting President, who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Mr Ade Ipaye, urged the DFID not to relent in its support to good governance and justice sector reforms in Nigeria.
“The J4a programme is well-thought out. Its effects are being felt. What we are working on now is to ensure that the initiatives of the programme are institutionalized in our systems. The J4a model is what we are following in our Police reforms today.
“The Case Management and Information Communication Technology (ICT) in use today in the Justice sector is a J4a initiative. We need to ensure that it is adopted in every part of the country. J4a supported the Police Complaint Response Unit and today, they are achieving results,” he said.
Speaking on sustainability, the Vice President stressed: “I hope the closure of the J4a will not be the end of support to the laudable initiatives.”
He commended the J4a team, led by Dr. Bob Arnot for what he described as their outstanding performance, urging them not to relent in their service to the nation.
Adding his voice, Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye was full of praises for the J4A programme, describing it as exemplary.
“It supported a whole range of measures in the area of economic justice, notably the improvement of service delivery in commercial courts. Starting with a baseline survey on the progress of cases in commercial courts, needs assessment of those courts, capacity building for judges who preside over the courts, infrastructure support to improve service delivery such as the furnishing of the Fast Track Court Registry and the monthly progress monitoring, Lagos Judiciary improved incrementally from one level to another.”
“To ensure this worked seamlessly and is sustainable, the judiciary created a separate registry for fast track cases with the encouragement and financial support of J4A.”
Continuing, he gave credit of the early achievements recorded by the PACAC Committee to the support it got from the J4a Project.
“J4A recognized the importance of co-ordination and co-operation amongst justice sector institutions. It thus supported the creation of a platform through which regular engagement and interaction could talk place.
“This initiative in my view is a major legacy. I can say this now because PACAC borrowed from this model by recommending to government a high level inter agency platform for conversation on the anti-corruption issue. J4A, without doubt, has been of immense benefit to Nigeria in all of the thematic areas of focus.”
In his presentation on: J4a: The Journey, Achievements, Experiences, Lessons and Legacy, Portfolio Lead for Justice Security and Conflict in Sub Saharan Africa for the British Council, Dr. Bob Arnot explained that the programme was organized around four components: Policing and Security; Justice, Anti-Corruption and Cross-Sector Coordination.
Speaking on the scope and methodology of the project, Arnot explained: “the programme worked at federal level plus five focal states (Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Jigawa) & FCT. Models based upon best practice were to be replicated, disseminated and sustained; working in the formal and informal sectors.”
He further explained that the ultimate aim of the programme was to create: “a more capable, accountable, responsive and integrated justice sector that is fair, equitable and accessible with sustainable reform momentum creating growing user confidence and respect amongst Nigerians.”
On successes recorded by the Policing component, Arnot, a former National Programme Manager of the J4a, enumerated them to include: “Work in 7 states affected 44.8 million people by introducing Community-based Policing (CBP) in Model Police Stations (MPS); introduced 12 modern police stations with 177 interventions and 645 replications; engaged with more than 100 police divisions and trained over 5000 Police officers.”
“J4A states citizen’s satisfaction with police up from 40% in 2011 to 59% in 2012; a total of 776 VPS leaders trained in leadership skills and over 1000 operatives have been trained in conflict management skills”
In the Justice component, Arnot explains: J4A worked with 26 pilot Magistrates, Sharia and Customary Courts in 3 states (disposal time reduced by 30%) equal to saving over 900,000 days in court. Since 2012, nearly 1,400 Traditional Rulers in two states have been trained on human rights, dispute resolution and record keeping. It is estimated that over 400,000 citizens will have benefited from the traditional rulers’ enhanced skills.”
Speaking on achievements by the anti-corruption component, he says: “The EFCC, ICPC and CCB now have strategic plans being implemented to direct their longer term work; J4A supported the EFCC and ICPC to investigate, prosecute and recover the assets of corrupt persons. By March 2016, assets worth over 210 Billion Naira had been recovered. Over 700 anti-corruption agency operatives have been trained in investigative and prosecutorial skills. J4A training modules now delivered by anti-corruption agencies (ACA) Trainers and key anti-corruption legislation developed.”
Continuing, he stressed that: “Reformed Anti-Corruption Transparency Units (ACTUs) are now in 427 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); Inter-agency cooperation and exchange of intelligence have been improved. Civil society groups and coalitions have been supported to increase oversight of the anti-corruption agencies and the government’s work on anti-corruption, as well as increased advocacy on stalled high profile corruption cases by Media/Civil Society actors through the Reporting Until Something Happens (RUSH) initiative.
Also speaking, J4a National Programme Manager, Danladi Plang outlined the programme’s achievements in providing justice for victims of sexual violence in the country.
“What we have tried to do is to provide justice for victims of sexual violence and their families. We did three major things in this regard. One is to provide facilities where victims can go and be treated; either by providing medication or counselling. The treatment is free of charge. Second, we increased the level of awareness of people on sexual violence. Next is in the area of training and capacity development for all stakeholders.”
The Programme’s anti-corruption Manager, Emmanuel Uche also expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the programme, describing them as remarkable.
“I am happy that the programme is a huge success. We have made the anti-corruption agencies more responsive and capable. Their level of engagement is back to the early days of their existence. We have supported government by strengthening institutional mechanisms of the anti-corruption agencies. We also strengthened the voice of the citizens. The J4a approach is holistic and has left a mark in the sands of history.”
The J4a Close-out event was attended by stakeholders from public institutions, Civil Society organisations and the media.
Violent Protest Erupts in Ibadan Over Naira Scarcity
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
There are reports of a violent protest in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, over the scarcity of old and new Naira notes, Business Post has gathered.
It was learned that residents of the ancient city are venting their anger over the hardship caused by the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the federal government.
The central bank redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes and asked citizens to return their old banknotes because they would cease to be legal tender.
However, since the introduction of the new currency notes in circulation on December 15, 2022, many Nigerians have not been able to withdraw their money from banks, fuelling anger in the land.
On Friday afternoon, some residents of Ibadan, especially in Iwo Road, took to the streets to express their frustration at the development, which is coming at a time consumers have to queue for petrol.
They had bonfires on the road and disrupted business activities in some areas of the city.
Recall that today, the Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, announced the suspension of his campaign activities over the scarcity of Naira and fuel.
Also on Friday, the Governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) met with President Muhammadu Buhari to appeal to him to change his mind on the Naira swap policy because of the effect on the people and the 2023 general elections starting later this month.
The President had earlier been asked not to show up in Kano State because of fears of a violent protest over the development. After the deadline was moved forward, the Governor of the state, Mr Abdullahi Ganduje, said he was safe to visit the ancient city.
However, during his visit to Kano, there were reports of a demonstration, with a chopped stoned by some residents of the state and convoys attacked by angry protesters.
The government claimed the protest was not directed at President Buhari, while the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said otherwise.
APC Governors Beg Buhari to Allow Use of Old, New Naira Notes
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to allow the use of old and Naira notes as legal tender in the country until the former is naturally mopped up from the circulation.
This appeal was made on Friday by Governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) during a meeting with Mr Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In a brief chat with reporters after the meeting, the Governor of Kano State, Mr Abdullahi Ganduje, said after the request was made to the President, he promised to look into it.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last month redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes and said the old currency denominations would cease to be legal tender from January 31, 2023.
However, two days before the deadline, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, after a meeting with President Buhari in his hometown in Daura, Katsina State, said the deadline had been shifted to February 10, 2023, noting that Nigerians had a grace period of February 17, 2023, to return the old notes to the bank.
On Tuesday, January 31, he appeared before the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on the CBN policy to say Nigerians could still take their old notes to banks after the deadline, promising that citizens will not lose their funds.
Today, the APC Governors met with Mr Buhari to discuss the scarcity of Naira in the financial system and also the lingering fuel scarcity.
One of the Governors present at the gathering, Mr Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, had claimed this week that the scarcity of cash and petrol was the handiwork of some elements in the Villa, who do not want the party to succeed in the forthcoming elections.
“We spoke with the President to allow the old and new notes to co-exist until the old notes die a natural death,” Mr Ganduje told newsmen while walking out after the meeting.
“Sir, did you discuss the petrol scarcity with him,” one of the reporters asked the Kano Governor, and he responded, “Yes.”
Oyo Governor Suspends Campaign Activities Over Fuel, Naira Crisis
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Due to the unending fuel and new Naira notes crisis rocking the country, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has suspended his campaign activities.
Mr Makinde is seeking another term in office under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He commenced his campaign activities last month, asking residents of the state to give him another chance to serve them.
But the scarcity of premium petrol spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, and cash has put Nigerians under untold hardship.
Governor Makinde, during the flag-off of the Omi-Adio-Ido Road on Friday, said in solidarity with the people over anti-people economy policies of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government, he would be suspending his campaign.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Wasiu Olatubosun confirmed this.
In the statement, Mr Makinde, who was in Ido to continue his campaign, directed that all campaign activities be suspended until further notice.
Mr Olatubosun said Governor Makinde noted that the suffering of his people was too much, saying he was elected to protect their interests and well-being.
The Commissioner said his boss, in an emotionally laden voice, directed leaders of the party in Oyo State to suspend the campaign.
“As a mark of honour to citizens and residents of Oyo State, the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has directed that all campaign activities of the party at all levels be suspended until further notice,” the statement read.
“Governor Seyi Makinde’s love for his people necessitated this unprecedented move at this time. We urge all residents and citizens of the State to remain calm as we navigate through this difficult period together,” he added.
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