I give thanks to Almighty Allah, to whom all honour and glory is due. I thank this ennobling profession of ours, the legal profession, that has taught me the value of service to society. I thank the author of this book, Oluseyi Adetanmi, Esq., whom I can only describe as a determined and tenacious lawyer, and whom, although I later know him to be our secret admire, I never met until the birthing of this book project.

When sometime in 2016 he approached me about his plan on this project, it took several months to come back to him, and even then after messages from friends. I would send him to one Professor of Law after the other, and one Senior Advocate of Nigeria after another. When the book was completed earlier this year, I decided to send him to Gwagwalada at the University of Abuja to meet a certain Professor of critical trajectory of criminal law and practice. I was positive the faultfinding Professor would return a negative verdict on the form or content or raison d’etre for the book. I had to give up and agree on the project when all these efforts proved abortive.

I should also confess that I was initially hesitant because, in this town a book is written in your honour when you have contributed to the growth and development of law or some other field or have attained some position or have retired or retiring gracefully. But I am only a member of the political class. I have not retired, and I am not hoping to retire any time soon. So my initial hesitation was an expression at resisting any attempt by anyone to send me into an untimely retirement. I still love what I am doing.

Another irony of the event of today is the turnout of so many members of the 7th House of Representatives. They, including the best former Speaker Nigeria ever had, are here in a number so large they can fulfill the constitutional threshold of convening a session.

I must say that I am indeed humbled by the turn out of every one here today, including eminent SANs and Professors of repute. When Mrs. Toyin Saraki , the Founder of Wellbeing Africa, the NGO for maternal, newborn and child health rights, notified me yesterday of cancellation of her prior programme overseas in order to make herself available for the programme, the bag of gratitude became overflowing.

I am so grateful to everyone. When we celebrate a small effort, other people tend to be encouraged subsequently to take bold steps for the development of our dear nation. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA) is no doubt a game changer. Of all the legislation that I was actively involved with in the Seventh National Assembly, I am most proud of this Act. I tied my success not only to the passage but also to the signing of the law. Speaker Tambuwal, perhaps because he is also a lawyer, abridged all known procedures and processes for the Act and gave a standing order on the Bill.

Given that it was considered a Tambuwal House and a PDP administration, the then Hon. Attorney-General Adoke proved extremely helpful in this regard. On 13 of May, 2015, a day I will never forget, the Clerk of the National Assembly transmitted the clean Bill to the Villa. Few hours thereafter, Mr. Adoke called that I should inform the Clerk of the National Assembly that the Bill had been assented to. It has never happened before that a 400-clause legislation becomes law in three hours.

The lesson that the implementation of the Act teaches me is that good governance will continue to elude Nigeria, if the three arms of government would not agree to cooperate and work in the same direction.

I remember, someone would say what did the Judiciary had in following legislative process. On this Act, the Judiciary headed then by Justice Alooma Mukhtar, GCON donated, so to say, Justice Ishaq Bello, now the Chief Judge of Abuja, to the legislative process of the ACJA.

No wonder, we have witnessed an equally unprecedented iteration of the ACJA to the Supreme Court 5 different times within its first two years. I remember in a bid to protect the ACJA, the Seventh National Assembly was not sure whether the Act might be shut down in some respects by the judiciary on constitutional ground, thereby making it to propose a constitutional amendment to parties’ party’s constitutional entitlement to appeal as of right in interlocutory matters. With the Supreme Court’s decision in Olisah Metu’s Case a few months ago, the Judiciary is saying nothing is stopping implementation of ACJA.

Today we are celebrating that spirit of togetherness among stakeholders of the three arms of government.
Yes, ACJA is a breakthrough, but it is only limited to the criminal aspect of the law.

We need a similar groundbreaking legislation to address undue delay in civil matters, especially commercial cases. To this, the Senate President has been concerned and has responded positively in specific areas of substantive laws of commerce and doing business in Nigeria.

Last year, he asked me; “why can’t we by law or constitution consign all commercial disputes into a mandatory arbitration process only.” But I am lucky this time because the Senate President also tasked Professor Paul Idornigie, SAN with finding a solution to unbearable judicial delays to business dealings.

In conclusion, I still believe we need to write more books, especially about law and lawmaking. Lawmaking is like making an omelet, they say. There has to be breakages. Where there are crucial laws that must be passed (like eg. The Egmont group law on Financial Intelligence), how do we draw from the legislative history of some important laws like the ACJA and get to push forward? What made an Attorney-General of the Federation engrossed and fixated to a legislation? This is not America but I will one day want to see a book in Nigeria titled: How To Get A Law Passed And Signed In A Few Hours.

Thank you all for coming.