EU-UNODC Support Enhances Justice Sector Reforms in Benue State

MAKURDI, 2 JULY 2014. The technical support being provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the Project "Support to the Justice Sector in Nigeria", funded by the European Union (EU), is enhancing reforms in the Benue State justice sector.

In an address delivered in Makurdi on behalf of the Chief Judge of Benue State, Hon. Justice Iorhemen Hwande, to participants at the opening session of the action planning workshop for the Benue State Justice Sector on Monday 30 June 2014, Hon. Justice Aondover Kaka'an said EU and UNODC's support is uplifting the judiciary and enhancing the quick delivery of justice in Benue State. "UNODC supported us in establishing the Judicial Research Center (JRC), and with the resources in the center the judges are able to access information that will enhance their work and help them dispense justice without delay. Due to the implementation of the action plan drawn up in 2008 with support from UNODC, we have increased pro bono services to individuals who cannot afford the services of a lawyer and this has enhanced smooth hearing of cases by the courts and reduced the number of awaiting trial inmates in prisons," he said.

In her address at the occasion, Mrs Ugonna Ezekwem, National Project Officer Justice Sector Reform at UNODC, said Benue State is particularly important to the European Union and UNODC because of their outstanding performance during the last EU-funded project implemented in the state. "A lot of the reforms implemented in Benue State with support from EU-UNODC during the previous justice sector reform project have been sustained and the activities in the 2008 action plan are still being implemented, so we are very happy to be back here to advance these reforms," she said.

Under the EU funded project, UNODC is supporting the development and implementation of state-level action plans for justice sector reforms in nine states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. The action planning initiative aims to inculcate a forward-looking approach into justice administration in the supported states and strengthen coordination, policy development, training, research, operational capacity, access to justice, and respect for human rights. "Action planning will encourage the justice sector in supported states to plan strategically for reforms and to monitor and evaluate their performance over a period of time," said Mrs Ezekwem.

Barr. Christy Anageende, Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary Benue State Ministry of Justice, thanked the European Union and UNODC for supporting justice sector reforms in Benue State. "I know the importance of this work planning workshop and I want to appreciate the efforts of the European Union and UNODC. I have no doubt that Benue State will benefit immensely from this workshop and the project," she said.


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