Credits – Google
The justice system in Nigeria has been plagued
with several factors which have contributed to the slow and unsteady grinding
of the law especially as regards criminal matters. These factors which seemed
institutional have led to the propositions of various strategies for reforming
the ailing system of administration of justice in Nigeria. Gladly, the
Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 has brought those reforms to the
For the purposes of criminal jurisdiction,
Nigeria is divided into the North and the South. The criminal justice system in
the north was based on the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC)
while the south had its criminal administrative system based on the Criminal
Procedure Act (CPA). However the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 merged
the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), Criminal Procedure Northern State Act 2004 and
CPC into one principal Federal Enactment to apply to all Federal Courts across the

 There are numerous laws contained in the ACJA
2015 which are welcome and have been needed for a very long time. A study of
these provisions reveal the aim of the Act is to promote efficient management of
the criminal justice institutions, ensure speedy dispensation of justice, protect
the society from crime and preserve the rights and interests of defendants and victims
of crime.
 For instance, it was the culture of the police
to arrest a family member or kin in place of an accused person, however, Section
7 of the ACJA which deals with arrest prohibits arrest in lieu. This means a
person shall not be arrested in place of a suspect. Furthermore, the Police
have been accused of torture and inhuman treatment in the past hence the Act in
Section 8 also provides that a suspect shall be accorded humane treatment
having regards to the dignity of his person and shall not be subjected to any
form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
 It was a normal phenomenon for accused persons
to allege torture by the police before making confessional statements hence the
provision of S. 15 (4) ACJA provides for – electronic recording of confessional
statement on video or any other audio visual means. This is to curb the
allegations of violence on suspects while in custody and to prove the
voluntariness of that statement in court.
 S.24 (1) ACJA also in a bid to prevent
congestion of police stations and detention centers provides for – the Chief Magistrate or where there is no Chief
Magistrate within the police division any magistrate designated by the Chief
Judge for that purpose, shall at least every month, conduct an inspection of
police stations or other places of detention within his territorial jurisdiction
other than the prison.
 Section 270 also brings about the introduction
of plea bargaining – The Act states that – the defence can write to the
Attorney General for plea bargain; the prosecution may enter into plea
bargaining with the defendant, with the consent of the victim or his
representative during or after the presentation of the evidence of the prosecution,
but before the presentation of the evidence of the defence. Also the IPO must
also be informed of the plea bargaining agreement.
 S. 293 -296 of the ACJA provides that a
suspect shall not be remanded for not more than 14 days at first instance and renewable
for a time not exceeding fourteen days where “good cause” is shown. At the
expiration of the remand order, if Legal Advice is still not issued, the court
shall issue hearing note to the Inspector General of Police and Attorney
General of the Federation or the Commissioner of Police or any other authority
in whose custody the suspect is remanded to inquire
into the position of things and adjourn for
another period not exceeding fourteen days for the above mentioned officials to
come and explain why the suspect should not be released unconditionally.
Where good cause is shown, the court shall
remand for a period not exceeding fourteen days for arraignment of the suspect
and where good cause is not shown, the court shall have power to discharge and
release the suspect.
S.396 (7) ACJA – checkmates the effect of
elevation to the court of appeal from the high court wherein judges who had
been elevated will leave all case files and pending suits before their courts
behind, matters which are usually reassigned to other judges and directed to
start afresh. This is indeed another novel provision in the ACJA. Section 396
(7) ACJA provides that a High Court Judge elevated to the Court of Appeal shall
have the discretion to continue to sit as an High Court Judge only for the
purpose of concluding any part- heard criminal matter pending before him at the
time of his elevation and shall conclude the same within a reasonable time.
Sadly the ACJA applies to Federal Courts and
the F.C.T, meaning not the provisions will not be applicable to states and
state high courts, however Lagos State has passed its own Administration of
Criminal Justice Law which is similar to the ACJA. It is recommended that other
states adopt the provisions of the ACJA and ignore the provisions of the CPA
and CPC which have become old and archaic.
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq.