ASABA- Delta State Government has restated commitment to ensuring quick dispensation of justice in all civil and criminal cases in the state.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Barrister Peter Mrakpor stated this in Asaba when the executives of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Delta State Council paid him a courtesy visit.
Barrister Mrakpor said the administration of criminal justice amendment law had been reviewed and passed by the Delta State House of Assembly and was awaiting assent of Governor Okowa.
”With that, we can cut down trial time to four months maximum instead of running three years, four years; and that is our goal. We have said that all our criminal files should be reviewed, so we have been reviewing files. So cases that ought not to be in court, we are getting them out of court. There are some cases where we can’t find the witnesses again; some are not interested because of length of time. So, instead of keeping the accused person in prison forever, and have series of adjournments; what we have done was to look at the files and took decision that the inmates be allowed to go home. So that way, we are also trying to have a reduction in awaiting trial inmates.”, he revealed.
According to him, for civil cases, the new procedure rules have made room for written depositions to cut down trial time. We have also looked at Alternative Disputes Resolution, ADR, to be able to deal with some of these matters; so that way, you don’t spend much time in court.
The Delta State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Mrakpor stated further, ” The CJ has what we called the prison visit where he reviews files. The administration of criminal justice law now makes room for attorney general to also have that privilege of going for prison visitation too. So we believe that if we do that, we’ll be able to clear off a lot of these persons that are in prisons.”
On cases of persons remanded unjustly, Barrister Mrakpor said his ministry was dealing with that hinting that a public advisory service had been established….” The governor said we should give free legal advice in all our zones, and we are doing that. Part of it deals with human rights infringement…….For those who can not afford to pay for lawyers, we have the NBA. Some of them have volunteered to offer free legal services,and we monitor to be sure that it is actually free.”
He said the issue of corruption had been fought reasonably in the department of public prosecutors warning that visitors are not allowed to visit them when they are working…..”because we don’t want people coming here to buy opinions. If a man is guilty, he is guilty; if he has a case to answer, he has to answer; if he doesn’t have, he doesn’t have. So, that is the system we operate. ”
Barrister Mrakpor who asserted that Governor Okowa’s administration was doing a lot to impact positively on the well-being of Deltans, appealed to the media to be fair in their criticism……One discontent is getting information to members of the public. Since the inception of this administration, we have had a lot of pluses. But not much of these pluses are being reported. NUJ, please help us, let our achievements be reported. Put the facts as they are so that people have balanced views. Let people know what we are doing particularly at the grassroots.”
Earlier, the Chairman of NUJ , Delta State Council, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu had said the visit was to synergize with the ministry of justice on ways of correcting the ills in the society especially as it bothers on maltreatment of journalists.
Comrade Ikeogwu who expressed concern over the recent military attack on some journalists in Abia and also the assault of some journalsts in Osun by DSS called for adequate protection of journalist at their places of work.
He said NUJ was ready to partner the ministry of justice in area of reporting court proceedings and judgements, and called for his intervention in cases where journalists are hindered from doing their work at courts.
Comrade Ikeogwu said the NUJ was worried over increasing number of inmates awaiting trial as well as delayed judgements in high profiled cases.
He appealled for the intervention of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in resolving the tussle over NUJ land in Asaba