UNODC holds a moot court simulation on serious crimes

Abuja, 11 August 2022 – From 14 to 15 July, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held its first state level moot court simulation on serious crimes for North East Nigeria. The moot court was framed under the “Project to Strengthen the Capacity of Nigeria to Collect Evidence and More Effectively prosecute Terrorism and Other Serious Crimes with Respect to the Rule of Law”, funded by the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

Moot court participants included judges from Borno State Judiciary, investigators from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), prosecutors from the Borno State Ministry of Justice, defense lawyers from the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON), and representatives of the National Judicial Institute (NJI).

Through a serious crimes-related case scenario created by UNODC trainers, the moot court session provided an opportunity to promote and encourage enhanced dialogue and practical understanding amongst the various components of the criminal justice process. As judge Aishatu M. Ali put it, the moot court “will certainly improve the communication between the various sectors in the justice administration”. Equally, the session encouraged the exchange and development of constructive ideas and suggestions for addressing some of the key practical challenges relating to the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of serious offences. In this context, many participants expressed the unique opportunity the moot court presented in “creating the interface involving the judges, defense counsel, prosecutors and investigators” as highlighted by investigator Usman Ayuba.

Through the feature of in-depth lectures, complimented by an intensive scenario-based exercise and an interactive plenary discussion, the moot court built the knowledge and skills of North East state judges, prosecutors, defense counsel and investigators working on serious crimes cases to examine fundamental questions around existing mechanisms related to the presentation of evidence in court. Investigator Omoola Azeezat stated that “the moot court session is very informative because it gives first-hand experience of court sessions to the participants by drawing expertise from colleagues from different fields and by strengthening the relationship between investigators and prosecutors. The session improves investigating skills, principles of evidence in criminal investigation trail, how to present evidence before the court and examination of witnesses”.

The session also focused on considering the application of international standards and best practices regarding the handling and admissibility of evidence that may be applicable in the Nigerian context as well as to ensure a timely and effective administration of justice with respect for the rule of law and human rights. Reflecting on his experience participating in the moot court, investigator Usman Ayuba expressed the appreciation, “foresight and commitment of the UNODC in creating this avenue of interface involving the judges, defense counsel, prosecutors and investigators.” In his words, “this will go a long way in ensuring a speedy criminal justice delivery and projecting Nigeria’s image in good light.”