Charting a New Course for the Justice Sector in Katsina State

ABUJA, 11 JUNE 2014. Stakeholders in the Katsina State justice sector gathered in Abuja 9-11 June 2014 to review and update the justice sector reform action plan for the state, which was developed in 2008 with assistance from UNODC under a European Union funded project. Participants in the workshop included representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Katsina State Ministry of Justice, Katsina State Judiciary, law enforcement agencies, Nigeria Law Reform Commission, National Human Rights Commission, the Legal Aid Council, Nigeria Bar Association, Federation of Women Lawyers, civil society organizations, and the media.

Dr Lawal Musa, Chairman, Katsina State House of Assembly Committee on the Judiciary, chaired the occasion. He pledged the support of the state government in ensuring implementation of the action plan. "We are currently reviewing and amending our laws and I assure you that the Katsina State House of Assembly will work on legislative reforms identified in the action plan to provide an enabling law and environment for good governance and observance of the rule of law in the state," he said.

Prof. Osarheimen Osunbor, Chairman Nigeria Law Reform Commission, thanked the European Union and the Federal Government for supporting the action planning initiative. "I want to commend the European Union and the Government of Nigeria for recognizing the importance of developing this action plan. The financial support from the European Union is helping UNODC to provide this support to the justice sector in Nigeria," he said.

Katsina is one of the states being supported by UNODC to develop an action plan for justice sector reform under the European Union funded project "Support to the Justice Sector in Nigeria". The action planning initiative aims to inculcate a forward-looking approach into justice administration in supported states and strengthen coordination, policies, training, research, operational capacity, access to justice, and respect for human rights.

Ade Omofade, the Project Coordinator for the "Support to the Justice Sector in Nigeria" project, said: "This action planning workshop further emphasizes the practice of encouraging a strategic and sustainable approach to the justice system and the need to enhance good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law." He encouraged participants to develop an action plan that would be effective, reflect respect for the rule of law, and stand the test of time.

Participants in the workshop worked in groups to identify challenges within the justice sector in the state and strategies to address the challenges. They prepared and presented a draft justice sector action plan for the state, which will be finalized and presented to the state government for adoption and implementation.

Support to the Justice Sector in Nigeria is a 42-month European Union funded project being implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to improve the effectiveness, accessibility, accountability, transparency, and fairness of the justice system in Nigeria. The project is supporting key initiatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ) to drive a coordinated, unified and integrated reform across the sector.


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James Ayodele                                    

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