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AGF Sets Agenda for Justice Sector

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN has set agenda and direction for the Justice Sector in the current administration of President Bola Tinubu.

Fagbemi laid bare the agenda at the meeting of the Body of Attorneys General of the Federation and States of the Federation which was held at Abuja Continental Hotel, Abuja on 28th November, 2023.

Meeting for the first time following their assumption as Chief Law Officers at Federal and States levels, the HAGF emphasized focusing on some critical and cross-cutting legal issues affecting the Nigerian Federation, which he said would require mutual cooperation and collaboration between the Federal and the Governments of the Component States.

According to him, the first priority “is the overriding need for close collaboration, cooperation and mutual understanding in the performance of our constitutional and statutory responsibilities, both horizontally between the national and sub-national entities, and vertically by the three arms of government at all levels’ ‘.

Buttressing further, the HAGF said that “the recent constitutional amendments wherein the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 was altered vide the Fifth Alteration Numbers 15, 16 and 17 Acts of 2023 to devolve powers to component States of the Federation in matters pertaining to Correctional Service, railways and the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in areas covered by the national grid respectively, it has become imperative for states of the Federation to take maximum benefit of these constitutional alterations by developing legal and policy frameworks on these items”.

He also emphasized the need to strengthen the entire justice sector, particularly the administration of criminal justice in order to meet the end goals of justice and the expectations of the Nigerian Citizens.

He urged the Body to “ensure the full implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary across our states as provided for under Section 121(3) & (4), as a mark of our true and holistic commitment to the ideals of democracy and good governance to engender building a robust capacity of the judiciary”.

Fagbemi also challenged the body on the necessity to constructively work with the legislative arm of government in the areas of reform of existing laws where necessary, and in developing new legislations that would address critical gaps, particularly within justice sector institutions and beyond.

While acknowledging the increasingly rising debt profiles of Government at all levels, Fagbemi promised that, Federal Ministry of Justice would be extending Capacity Building support to Legal Officers involved in drafting MOUs and other forms of binding agreements across the states, to acquire the required skills to identify possible areas of dispute or liability, which could lead to avoidable litigation or arbitration costs and judgement debt.

In her welcome address the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Justice Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba OON, mni said the meeting of the Body of Attorneys General was to discuss pertinent legal issues and other matters of national interest, with the overall aim of fostering peace, security of lives and property as well as economic growth and development for the nation.
According to her, “you will agree with me that the last few months have called for major interactions between stakeholders in the Justice Sector, in order to devise creative solutions and responses to some of the high level challenges being faced in Nigeria today”.

Jedy-Agba highlighted the issues to include security, curbing the proliferation of crimes most especially sexual and gender based offences, plugging the gaps in anti-corruption mechanisms and improving access to justice for citizens.

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