Editor's note: Public affairs commentator, Rabiu Musa, in this piece, describes Nigeria’s minister of justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN, as a champion of Nigeria's justice system, hailing the minister for his reforms in the Nigerian judicial system.
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Nigeria’s minister of justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami SAN, as the chief law officer of the country has been a great reformer of the judicial system, particularly in this trying time of COVID-19 that all states are trying to protect the sanctity of human lives.
Since his assumption of office on November 11 2015, and his subsequent reappointment as the AGF in President Buhari's second term, Malami has not wavered in his commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, thereby strengthening the nationhood and livelihood of the citizenry.
Malami's intervention into the kerfuffle of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki's cases is one that lent further credence to the fact that in promoting human rights and a strong rule of law, culture, he is second to none. Its lusciousness in respect to noting that in less than two weeks of taking over the cases from the State Security Service (SSS), the duo were released. This is in line with his visionary leadership, defence of state corporate interest and his usual concern on equality before the law, and, above all the protection of human rights.
AGF Malami has been hailed as a champion of Nigeria's justice system. Photo credit: Channels TV
Concerned about the human rights and state of inmates across correctional centres of the country, Malami envisioned the dire need for general review and decongestion of prisons. To this end, the federal ministry of justice under his watch had on October 2017, constituted the presidential committee on correctional service and reform with the erstwhile honourable chief judge of the high court of the Federal Capital Territory, Honourable Justice I.U Bello as the chairman, to fast-track the decongestion of correctional centres.
The committee secured the release of a total number of 3,768 prisoners during visits to over 34 prisons in 16 states across the country. Since then, Nigeria correctional centres have been fine-tuned and unarguably different before Malami assumed office.
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Malami's commitment to speedy trial and administration of justice in clover with his exertion to ensure a Nigeria where justice is discharge timeously is obvious. As a legal ace, he understood the need to restrategize the model in which the suspected cases of Boko Haram terrorists and other accused persons' cases were handled. Therefore, he directed members of Complex Casework Group (CCG) in the department of public prosecutions of the federal ministry of justice under his close supervision and reviewed all the case files and the affected individuals and the ministry provided a legal opinion based on the facts of the cases, the evidence available and relevant laws. The office also provided prosecutorial services where evidence to sustain a charge was established. And this process facilitated the discharge of 896 persons for want of evidence and conviction of 366 persons.
Malami’s contribution towards human rights policies initiation in Nigeria was tremendously impactful and surface transparency in the administration of justice. Some of which was before his assumption into the office thought as arduous and herculean which include but not limited to;
* Implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice Act
* National Correctional Service Act
* Enhancement of the Access to Justice
* Movement for the Socio-Economic Right
* Apo Six Killings by Security Agents
* Passing of Legislations in line with International Human Rights
In the spirit of great determination of a visionary leader, the AGF already modelled post-COVID-19 justice system and a workable digital plan which is in line with the on-going implementation of the national policy of justice and the full adoption of judiciary information technology policy which was in place since 2012. This is to leverage technology in the administration of justice in order to cushion the effect of COVID-19 for proper speedy and discharge of justice in Nigeria. These all are courtesy of the Malami. And these are just a few among his laudable achievements toward the promotion of human rights, administration of justice and it rightly positions him as a champion of Nigeria's justice system.
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