ACJA 2015: Full Speech of the NBA Bwari Branch Chairman, the Servant One at the Joint Abuja NBA Branches/RoLAC Seminar

Clement Chukwuemeka Ugo Esq, NBA Chairman, Bwari Branch.

A REMARK MADE BY CLEMENT CHUKWUEMEKA, (SERVANT ONE/CHAIRMAN) NBA BWARI BRANCH, A 2DAY RETREAT OF THE NBA BRANCHES IN THE FCT, ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT (ACJA) 2015 DATED THE 6TH AND 7TH DAY OF AUGUST, 2019 ORGANISED BY RULE OF LAW AND ANTI-CORRUPTION (RoLAC) PROGRAMME OF BRITISH COUNCIL, AT TREASURE SUITES & CONFERENCE CENTRE ABUJA.

PROTOCOLS:

The Chairmen of NBA Branches, ROLAC Officers, hosts of this remarkable Retreat, Resourced Persons from diverse area of life, Our Distinguished Participants, Media Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen.

INTRODUCTION:

Gentlemen AND LADIES, To start with, I salute the courage of ROLAC, and British Council for its consistent supports towards promoting the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption in Nigeria. It is a notorious fact that promoting the Rule of Law and the cause against graft, it is obvious that the role of NBA is sine qua non.
Our objectives and goals as lawyers and ministers in the temple of justice are central to these laudable roles. Nevertheless, we must appreciate RoLAC for identifying with us as progressive partners towards attaining SDGS 16 and 17 respectively – Peace, Justice and strong Institutions.

REMARKS:

Gentlemen, we are gathering here today as one Bar for one purpose with RoLAC to achieve a common vision of ensuring that there is justice for all members of Nigerian society particularly the citizens of Federal Capital Territory. Our differences are to be harmonized as social engineers and partners in building a just and egalitarian society.

Reading today’s event properly from my previous engagement with RoLAC, it is an opportunity for the Bar to gather and brainstorm on the full implementation of ACJA 2015. It is a forum for us as leaders of the Bar to see how the NBA branches can effectively play their vital roles in this direction. To see how we can further the course of Justice and use the benefits of our relationship and partnership with RoLAC to engage our institutions and persons working in the Criminal Justice system for the benefit of all.

What are the opportunities available for the NBA from local and international partners /donors who share same vision of promoting the rule of law in Nigeria?
I posit, this is a good starting point to learn the trade on how to do it better. We must be ready to take up the challenges as individuals and leaders in our own right.
It is time to ensure that the law works. Permit me to allude to the recent event of a lawyer arrested along with his client in Kabusa. What happened to the lawyer is a fact of what is bedeviling our Justice system every day. Naked impunity and no iota of respect for the Rule of Law.

If the police had complied with the provisions of ACJA 2015 as relating to the standard procedure of recording the statement of defendant in a police station, or even allowing our colleague to express himself by way of interview, that incident could have been avoided.

The lesson to be learnt from that ugly event is that, as lawyers we could fall victim of the impunity in the land in the course of doing our professional duty as lawyers to our clients despite being learned. You can imagine the faith of indigent members of the society.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure ACJA is working effectively for the purpose it was passed into law in 2015. As we were able to counsel the DPO of kabusa Police, on the need to obey the provisions of

ACJA 2015 which he assured us of its compliance especially on area of statement taking in the presence of a defendant’s lawyer.

Gentlemen, ACJA 2015 has come to stay, and its provisions have far reaching effect in the Justice delivery system. Nevertheless, as practitioners we all know as good as this legislation may be, it has its own challenges. I propose further that the dialogue on how to make it better must be all engaging and the platform for continual engagement must be sustained by the Bar and with the needed support from RoLAC and all the stakeholders.

It is trite to note that, majority of victims who face the consequence of disobedience to the Provision of ACJA 2015 are found in rural and or suburbs and not in urban environs, even if when the Branches of NBA will be eager to assist victims and law enforcement agencies in such local places, we are faced with absence of mobility (like 18 Seater bus) to access such places which ordinarily through constant sensitization and interaction with the help of mobility will go a long way in accessing these suburbs with a view to educating concerned stakeholders and likely victims.

Towards this end, it is pertinent to say that Nigerian Bar Association, Bwari Branch has drafted a one year Action Plan from this August 2019 to July 2020 on the implementation of ACJA 2015 and it is working towards equally forming a committee to be known as “IMPLEMENTATION OF ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 2015 COMMITTEE”. I believe today Retreat will give us better insight to its effective implementation. The Retreat will be a better platform of how the branches can work better as a team, since we share collective destiny and we are all stakeholders in the administration of Justice in the FCT.

I propose without mincing words that after the Retreat a joint Communiqué shall be issued on the area of collaboration as NBA Branches in the FCT. It is expedient that we form a Technical Committee on ACJA as we are planning in our branch towards seeing to the effective implementation of ACJA in the FCT. I understand from Part 46, Section 469 Subsection (2) (G) of ACJA 2015 provides that NBA local branch Chairman shall be a member of ACJA Monitoring Committee. The nominee is expected to serve for 2 years. My question is: who is the representative of the local branch chairman in the ACJA monitoring committee amongst us here in FCT?
It is important to see through the Technical Committee input how the position of NBA in that committee is going to help our work and that of the committee.

VISSION & APPRECIATION:

Where I am standing, I can see the vision of one Bar as the vision of one nation and a triumph of the Rule of Law. Our politics, our differences are subsumed by one United Trinity Bar.

I urge my learned friends from the Unity Bar to put the past behind and move forward as one. Our colleagues from Gwagwalada we must make it work.

To RoLAC, we appreciate you for providing this platform for all the branches of NBA in FCT. We promise to work with you and you will not be let down. The present crops of leadership in the Trinity bar are the best you can work with to attain your ultimate goal in promoting the Rule of Law and in your Anti-corruption crusade.

I wish all the participants the best as Retreat is unfolding.
Thank you for your attention.

Clement Chukwuemeka
Servant One/Chairman
NBA BWARI BRANCH

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