The Kogi State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ibrahim Sanni Muhammed SAN, has restated the commitment of the State Governor, Alh. Yahaya Bello, to ensuring that citizens have access to justice especially the less privilege, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Muhammed gave the assurance on Monday in Lokoja, at the opening ceremony of a two-day seminar organised by Attorney General Alliance – Africa (AGA-AFRICA) in collaboration with Kogi State Office of the Public Defender and Citizens’ Right Commission (PDCRC).
The theme of the seminar is ”Impact Of Covid-19 On The Administration Of Criminal Justice And Access To Justice Webinar”, which also have some guest speakers who presented their papers virtually from USA, Kenya and Lagos.
Addressing the participants, Muhammed said that Kogi considered the Administration of Criminal Justice and Acess to Justice as key responsibility of Government.
”It is against this background that the State was among the initial set of States that enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Law for the purposes speedy dispensation of criminal justice in the state.
”’The establishment of the PDCRC in 2019 is a further demonstration of Government to the value of access to justice, particularly for the less privilege.
”We shall continue to do our best and bringing new ideas to this all important issues of administrator of criminal justice and access to justice, in the light of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic”, Muhammed said.
Represented by Mrs Hawa Yusufu, the State’s Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Kogi State Ministry of Justice, Muhammed thanked AGA-AFRICA for sponsoring the programme.
He stressed that the issue of the fundamental human rights of the residents and citizens of Kogi State, remained a great concern to the government.
He noted that Kogi was the first State to establish a Human Rights Special Intervention Group (HRSIG) under PDCRC, to receive and rapidly resolve complaints bordering of brutality by law enforcement agencies following the ENDSARS protest nationwide.
”AGA-AFRICA has continued to be by us, as we work hard to scale up the capacity of our human resource, particularly the lawyers and stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice sector”, he said.
Also speaking, the Director General, Kogi State PDCRC, Barr. Abdullahi Zakari, assured that the good people of Kogi would continue to have direct access to justice especially the less privilege.
Zakari explained that efforts have also been made to decongest prisons in the state, saying it was a continuous process and all hands must be on deck to ensure the right things were done at the right time.
”Covid-19 has provided what we now called ‘new normal’ because a lot of things that were not normal before are now normal; so, a lot of things need to be done.
”The establishment of Kogi PDCRC is a strong commitment on the part of Government to see that the ordinary citizens of this state who are always in conflict with the law, have access to justice by way of proper legal representation”, Zakari said.
On her part, Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Lagos State, virtually presented a paper, titled: ”Developing Administration Justice Sector Covid 19 Response”.
Adeyemi noted that the way we operate in court has changed since the era of Covid-19, such as prosecution service not able to operate maximally, and disruption of sittings in the courts as a result of postponed trials, among others.
She stressed the need to develop strategy to respond to Covid 19, that would enable justice systems to develop business continuity plans including prioritisation of civil cases and remote cases.