ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR DR. IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, AT THE NETWORK OF JUSTICE REFORM TEAM NETWORK CONFERENCE, ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2016, AT GRAND HOTEL, ASABA.
First, let me welcome you to Asaba, the Capital of Delta State. For those of you who may be visiting the State for the first time, I encourage you to take time out to experience our unique cultural heritage and savour the warmth and hospitality of our people.
- Delta State boasts of several tourist attractions such as beaches, resorts, gardens, traditional festivals, and historical monuments. Here in Asaba and environs, we have the Landers Brothers Anchorage, The Residency (first headquarters of the Royal Niger Company) craft centres, Ogbeke Square and Okpuzu Fall in Ibusa. So get to know a little more of Nigeria’s tourist potential and rich cultural heritage by taking the time to visit any of these tourist attractions before leaving town.
- I wish to specially recognise and thank Justice for All, United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Federal Justice Reform Coordinating Committee, Justice Sector Reform Teams of the States of the Federation, my Noble Lords, and Honourable Attorneys-General here present. I also acknowledge the presence of Magistrates, members of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Commissioner of Police, the Director, State Security Service, Delta State Command, and Civil Society Organisations.
- You will recall that on May 4th, this year, I declared open the Justice Sector Reform Retreat in Delta State. The retreat culminated in the inauguration of the Delta State Justice Reform Team. I am pleased to inform you that the outcome of the deliberations of the retreat on the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill has been presented at the public hearing organized by the State House of Assembly for legislative action. It is my hope that within the nearest possible time, that Bill would be passed and forwarded for my assent.
- This Conference would discuss issues that are germane to the administration of justice in the country and the need to have a National Justice Policy, implementation of the National Prosecution Policy and Sentencing Guidelines.
- The need to have a National Prosecution Policy that would be applicable in all the constituent parts of the country
is a key element of a responsive justice system. I understand that the National Prosecution Policy has been approved at the Federal Level and since we operate a Federal system of government, there is the need for the various State Governments to adapt same to suit their peculiarities.
- I have also been made to understand that the National Prosecution Policy seeks to ensure that prosecutions are conducted within timelines that would give credence to the constitutional safeguards of speedy and fair trial for accused persons. The policy is also aimed at ensuring that the Constitutional powers to prosecute crimes are not unfairly tilted towards prosecuting all crimes.
- The prosecutor ought to retain for himself a measure of discretion to determine, after a dispassionate consideration of the facts and circumstances of each matter, and also to prevent the filing of frivolous criminal cases with little or no chance of success. This ultimately leads to the decongestion of court docket.
- Delta State is committed towards realizing the goals of an efficient and effective justice sector that delivers on the
twin pillars of access to justice and fairness to all citizens. We are irrevocably committed to these ideals. And your presence here is a testament of your commitment to the establishment of a strong and virile justice system.
- As you deliberate on these issues and how to improve the justice sector of our dear country, please be guided that history beckons on you to make difference while you have the opportunity.
- It is on that note that I now declare thus conference open.
- Thank you for your time and attention.
- God bless us all.
Office of the Governor