The European Union has affirmed its commitment to supporting Nigeria’s effort at improving her judicial sector as well as strengthening the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption through the financing of a 23.3 million Euro (N10 billion) Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme.
This is coming at a time that corruption and an ineffective justice system undermine Nigeria’s efforts at economic and social development and fighting poverty.
The programme, which is funded under the 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Progamme, will consolidate on the achievements of the 10th EDF projects of Support to the Nigerian Justice Sector (2013 to 2017) and Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (2013 to 2017).
The RoLAC aligns with the Nigerian Government’s commitment to fighting corruption, reforming the criminal justice system and increasing access to justice for women, children and people with disabilities.
The programme will be implemented by the British Council at the federal level and in four states of Adamawa, Anambra, Kano and Lagos.
The EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen, who was represented by Kurt Cornelis at the launch of a Four-Year RoLAC progamme in Abuja on Tuesday, said criminal justice reform and the fight against corruption are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
Karlsen said: “Corruption is both a cause and a driver of poor governance and performance of the criminal justice system.”
The Programme Director at the British Council, Dr. Bob Arnot, said the approach is “not to bring predetermined solutions but to work in collaboration with Nigerian states and non-state actors to develop and implement sustainable initiatives that will build upon and consolidate the success of the EU’s previous support to Nigeria in the justice and anti-corruption sector under the 10th EDF”.
Arnot said the British Council’s long experience in Nigeria in the sector will also be brought to bear to ensure the successful completion of all interventions.
Launching the programme on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Director, International Comparative Law Department in the Ministry, Stella Anukam, appreciated both the EU and the British Council for rolling out the programme aimed at strengthening the nation’s judicial reformation strategies.
Malami said: “We at the Federal Ministry of Justice applaud your immense contributions and efforts.
“We reaffirm our commitment to you on this laudable programme.
“I am happy that it has been branded a Nigerian programme.”
Malami called for total commitment on the part of all stakeholders towards the implementation of the programme and expressed the hope that the four components of the programme, with a total of 19 outputs, will be fully achieved at the end of four years.
Malami presented the work plan for the RoLAC Programme to both the EU and British Council officials.
Hon. Justice Jude Okeke, who represented the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court at the event, said the Court, which has been in the forefront in the fight against corruption and support for the administration of criminal justice, will always ensure that justice within the jurisdiction of the court is dispensed on time.
The Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking of Persons, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, said the programmes falls within the purview of the Agency’s mandate of securing justice for vulnerable groups like women and children, stressing that the programme is coming at the right time.
The Women Affairs Minister, Hajia Aisha Alhassan, represented by her Permanent Secretary, Ifeoma Anagbogu, commended the sponsor of the programme for involving the Ministry in the roll out of the project, which will increase access to justice for women, children and people with disabilities.
Okay-Donli said the programme will add to the all-inclusive approach to seek justice for the vulnerable group.
Representing the four focus states, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Kano State, Ibrahim Mukhtar, appreciated the EU for considering the states.
Mukhtar said RoLAC will tremendously impact positively on the judicial system of the concerned states.
He promised a full cooperation of the four states in the implementation process.