Few days ago, from the 2nd to 4th September i and other critical stakeholders(from Imo state and beyond) were engaged in a three days Retreat where we had brainstorming dialogues on Making People-Centered Justice Happen in Imo state. We were charged with the job of drafting the first ever set of justice transformation goal.
This retreat which was organised by the Hague Institute For Innovation of Law (Hiil) is aimed at making justice affordable and accessible to the end user or the last man. It became pertinent to engage or partner with stakeholders who are involved or experts to phantom ways of solving daily legal problems .
The big questions where; what needs to be done to achieve the goal of making justice user friendly, people-centered, effective, easy to understand and access?
We made a view of these through justice identified needs; NEIGBOURS, CRIME, MONEY, LAND/HOUSING, EMPLOYMENT. These were the key points calling for attention in Nigeria. A critical look at our justice system revolves around these key points and if express solutions are found around them, we will then have the common man's interest protected in the justice system.
We further looked into some rising issues considering the Nigeria judicial system, the gaps, the influences, the problems and other issues as they border around our judicial system and solutions thereof. We made identification of 18 areas to be looked into which are;
1, There gaps in the justice system
2, Leadership and governance are needed
3, There are delays in the justice system
4, Awareness of justice and right is lacking
5, Early childhood awareness is an opportunity
6, An autonomous judiciary is needed
7, Corruption is a concern
8, Access to justice is unfair
9, Justice is an expensive and 'elitist commodity'
10, Laws are outdated
11, Laws are disobeyed
12, Prison infrastructure can be improved
13., Funding is inadequate
14, Incompetent people are appointed into justice roles
15, Training is crucial
16, Alternative Dispute Resolution options should be encouraged
17, Community autonomy can contribute to handling disputes.
18, Electronic documentation is a clear opportunity .
In the retreat present were the Attorney General of Imo state, High court Justices, magistrates, Members of Imo State NBA, other layers of great repute, IMHA selected law makers, representatives from CAN and muslim society, journalists, human right activities, officers from the police force and prisons, traditional and natural leaders etc.
It was indeed a session of cross fertilization of ideas to rectify and transform our justice system to be accessible to the common man.