The Kaduna State Government, in collaboration with The Hague Institute for Legal Innovation, has launched a strategy document to ensure the effective transformation of the justice system to be people-centred.

According to Kaduna Lieutenant Governor Hadiza Balarabe, the 60-page document will address people’s key needs in areas such as money disputes, police reform, crime and more.

Balarabe disclosed this when he released the document at the Kaduna government building, adding that every responsible government should be interested in the need for a strong legal framework with effective and efficient institutions.

According to her, since taking office in 2015, the Rufai-led government has anchored its reform agenda on many new laws and some new institutions, with many legislations subject to extensive and painstaking scrutiny and the repeal of outdated laws. .

She said: “Our desire and determined pursuit of a vibrant and functional justice system has led to the domestication of justice policy in 2018 as a roadmap for ongoing reform over the past five years. Key areas of reform include reviewing the legal framework and strengthening relevant institutions .

“In 2017, Kaduna became the first state in the North to incorporate the Criminal Justice Administration​ Act, which repealed the Criminal Procedure Code used in northern Nigeria. We also enacted a model Criminal Code to promote the North States agreed on the desirability of this step.

“Under our oversight, the Kaduna state government has taken several steps to strengthen key institutions across the judiciary. These include: Hiring 70 state legal advisers in the Ministry of Justice; establishing more district courts, hiring more Magistrates to administer the court, increasing the magistrate’s jurisdiction over monetary claims from N500,000 to N5 million.

“Establish small claims court to expedite adjudication of financial claims, expeditiously resolve debts and disputes involving recovery of money, establish mediation centers at the Department of Justice and three of the state’s Senate districts, provide free legal services, establish sex for the indigent Assault referral center for victims of sex crimes.”

Explaining the implications of the strategy document, Murtala Zubairu, chief registrar of the Kaduna State High Court, said stakeholders “will sit down and look at possible ways to implement these priorities strategically.

“We’ve taken steps to create small claims courts where you can resolve simple business disputes or liquidation claims within one day (minimum) and 60 days (maximum).”

Kaduna Governor’s Office Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and Legal Affairs Chris Omar explained: “The whole concept behind this document is to improve people-centred justice in the state. We are optimistic that now with this document, we can Start adding strategies, campaigns to the numbers and see how we do it.”

“I am very optimistic that this is not the kind of document that will be swept under the rug or kept in research for future researchers to look at. No, we will implement it,” he added.

However, Omar found insufficient funding, prosecutors and infrastructure, which he said the current government has done a lot to address since its inception in 2015.

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