Kogi Govt. restates commitment to citizens’ access to justice



The Kogi Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ibrahim Sanni Muhammed, SAN, says the prevalence of the Coronavirus ( COVID-19) pandemic, will not deter the state government from providing the people unhindered access to justice.

Muhammed gave the assurance on Monday in Lokoja at a two-day seminar organised by Attorney-General Alliance – Africa (AGA-AFRICA) in collaboration with Kogi State Office of the Public Defender and Citizens’ Right Commission (PDCRC).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the seminar is “Impact Of COVID-19, On The Administration Of Criminal Justice And Access To Justice Webinar”.

Muhammed said the state government considered the Administration of Criminal Justice and Access to Justice as key responsibility of government.

“It is against this background that the state was among the initial set of states that enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Law for the purpose of speedy dispensation of criminal justice in the state.

“The establishment of the PDCRC in 2019 is a further demonstration of government’s desire to provide access to justice, particularly for the less privilege.

“We shall continue to do our best and bringing new ideas to this all important issues of administrator of criminal justice and access to justice, in the light of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic,” Muhammed said.

Muhammed, who was represented by Mrs Hawa Yusufu, the State Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Kogi State Ministry of Justice, thanked AGA-AFRICA for sponsorship of the programme.

He stressed that the issue of the fundamental human rights of the residents and citizens of Kogi remained a great concern to the government.

He noted that Kogi was the first state to have established a Human Rights Special Intervention Group (HRSIG) under PDCRC, to receive and rapidly resolve complaints bordering on brutality by law enforcement agencies following the ENDSARS protests nationwide.

Also speaking, the Director-General, Kogi State PDCRC, Mr Abdullahi Zakari, assured the gathering that the people of Kogi would continue to have direct access to justice especially the less privilege.

Zakari explained that efforts had also been made to decongest prisons in the state.

He said that it was a continuous process which required that all hands must be on deck to ensure the right things were done at the right time.

“Covid-19 has provided what we now called ‘new normal’ because a lot of things that were not normal before are now normal; so, a lot of things need to be done.

“The establishment of Kogi PDCRC is a strong commitment on the part of government to see that the ordinary citizens of this state who are always in conflict with the law, have access to justice by way of proper legal representation,” Zakari said.

On her part, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Lagos State, Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, virtually presented a paper, titled: ”Developing Administration Justice Sector COVID-19 Response”.

Adeyemi noted that the COVID-19 era had brought about new order in court operations such as disruptions in prosecution services, disruptions in court sittings as a result of postponed trials, among others.

She stressed the need to develop strategy to respond to COVID-19 that would enable justice systems to develop business continuity plans including prioritisation of civil cases and remote cases.

NAN reports that some guest speakers presented their papers virtually from USA, Kenya and Lagos respectively.(NAN)