DELIVERED BY HON. DR. ALI AHMAD ON THE OCCASION OF PUBLIC LAUNCHING IN
HIS HONOUR OF A BOOK TITLED “THE CHALLENGES OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
ADMINISTRATION IN NIGERIA” ON 14/9/2017 AT YAR’ADUA CENTRE, ABUJA.
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.
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.
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
Thank you all for coming.