Press release 28 June 2010, Markudi, Benue State

UNODC, NJI AND NPC VISIT BENUE STATE FOR ASSESSMENT OF EU FUNDED PROJECT

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Union (EU), the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and the National Planning Commission (NPC) visited Benue State on 28th June to assess the progress made in the implementation of the Benue State Action Plan on Justice Sector Reform 2007-2010.

As one of the ten States benefitting from the 25 Million Euro project funded by the European Union in support of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Judiciary, the Benue State Judiciary developed an action plan in collaboration with other stakeholders and commenced its implementation with the support of the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The other State judiciaries benefiting from the project are Anambra, Borno, Delta, Enugu, Kaduna, Katsina, Lagos and Rivers State as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

The action plan which was adopted by the Benue State Judiciary Integrity Meeting focuses on, enhancing access to justice; improving timeliness and quality of justice delivery; strengthening the integrity, accountability, transparency, independence and impartiality of the court system and coordination across the justice sector.

During the mission, the monitoring team had discussions with the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Honorable Terseer Tsumba; the Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary matters and members of the Benue state House of Assembly. The team also met with the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice Benue State, Barrister Chive Kaave, members of the implementation committee as well as a team of journalists.

While addressing the Honorable speaker, the Senior Project Coordinator Mr. Oliver Stolpe commended the Benue State Judiciary, under the leadership of Honorable Justice Iorhemen Hwande, OFR, the Chief Judge of Benue State. Mr. Stolpe called upon the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive to make provisions for and support the development and implementation of a new action plan in 2011. He suggested that action planning for justice sector reform should become a permanent feature of the state's annual budget and could serve as a model for other public sector agencies both within and beyond Benue State.

In response, Honorable Terseer Tsumba welcomed the monitoring team and commended the EU and UNODC for their role in the development and strengthening of governance and access to justice in Benue State. He assured the team of the Benue State House of Assembly's commitment and support to the judiciary particularly as it relates to budgetary allocations to strengthen judicial capacity and efficiency.

L-R Chief Registrar of Benue High Court Mr. Polycarp Kwaharp, the Chairman implementation committee Hon. Justice Adam Onum and the Attorney General of Benue State Barrister Chive Kaave

L- R UNODC's Senior Project Coordinator Dr. Oliver Stolpe, National Project Officer Ms. Ugonna Ezekwem, NJI's Reserach Fellow Mr. Mahmaud Gama and the Desk Officer of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Mr. Emmanuel Atiata

Group photograph of members of the Benue State House of Assembly, members of the implementation, monitoring team with the Speaker of the House, Honorable Terseer Tsumba