Stakeholders in the justice sector in Edo State have expressed their commitment to the sustenance of the various reforms in the administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJL) in the state. Led by the Chief Judge of Edo State the RH Hon Justice Joseph Itsebaga Acha, the stakeholders which also included the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice Edo State, Oluwole Osadebamwen Iyamu among others averred that this is necessary to sustain the gains of the reforms in the sector for efficient and effective service delivery.

The Chief Judge at the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (ROLAC) dissemination, learning and close out event in Benin City, said in his opening remarks that the reforms have raised the bar in citizen’s access to justice and compliance with the rule of law by state actors in addition to equipping judicial officers with the right knowledge and skills to deliver on their assigned duties.

Hon Justice Acha commended the foresightedness of Governor Godwin Obaseki who ensured that Edo despite not being among the initial four focal states of implementation in Nigeria was incorporated to bring the number to five.

“For the first time under the ACJL under the auspices of ROLAC, magistrates visit detection centres all over the state, not just prisons, but the police, the EFCC, ICPC and when persons are unduly detained, these magistrates release them. That’s a major work aspect of Rolac’s intervention which I think has improved the criminal justice system in Edo State.

“And our officers too are regularly being trained. So, we know things about plea bargain, sentencing guidelines. ROLAC has intervened in several areas in our activities and all the officers, judicial officers, magistrates and area court presidents are trained regularly on these initiatives.

“We are sure Edo State will be part of ROLAC 2, the second phase of the programme, because of our own contributions; you have to provide the enabling environment for intervention agency to come in. As a participating state, Edo has done a lot.

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“Edo State has done very well with the support of the government in setting up some infrastructure for ROLAC to come and work. ROLAC for now does not set up infrastructure, they train personnel, because they found Edo to be a very fertile ground where they can work, that’s why we are hoping that more will be achieved when they come back on the second phase of the programme,” the Chief Judge concluded.

Speaking in the same event, the Attorney General Oluwole Osadebamwen Iyamu, represented by the Director of Public Prosecution Kingsley Odabi, noted that the state would remain grateful to ROLAC for the successes recorded in all the initiatives it partnered with Edo State Government for the last three years.

He expressed regret that the first phase of the programme was closing and wished the state was considered for the second phase of implementation soon to be launched in the country.

In his address, ROLAC’s Programme Manager Danladi Tanko said the agency has been involved in many activities in Edo State beyond criminal justice reforms which he said included access to justice for women, children and person with disabilities, strengthening the anti-corruption agencies in order to advance anti-corruption efforts in Edo State.

The Programme Manager who was represented by Oluwatoyin Badejogbin who said the provision of the enabling environment for ROLAC to operate like in Edo State are very important elements for qualification for its second phase.

“I would like to see the spirit taken into the future. It is entirely in the hands of the sponsor agency to determine which state to benefit in the next phase of the programme. The important thing is that we had a relatively good beginning and we hope that the intervention can be sustained over a long time”, Badejogbin said.