RJC WEEK: LAGOS MOJ HOLDS STAKEHOLDERS MEETING ON RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

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In commemoration of the Year 2023 Restorative Justice Week, the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) – a programme of the European Union (International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance), held a stakeholder meeting recently with the theme: “Restoring Dialogue, Solidarity and Justice in Today’s Societies”, at The Zone, Gbagada, Lagos.

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In his goodwill message, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba stated that Restorative Justice seeks to examine the harmful impact of crime and determines what can be done to repair that harm while holding the person who caused it accountable for his or her actions.

The Chief Judge, who was represented by DCR Legal Ikeja, Mrs. Joy Ugbomoiko, stated that restorative justice focuses on holding the offender accountable in a more meaningful way, saying “Restorative Justice repairs the harm caused by the offender and helps to reintegrate the offender into the community while achieving a sense of healing for both victim and the community”.

Alogba commended the Lagos State Ministry of Justice and the Restorative Justice Centre for partnering with RoLAC to organise the stakeholders’ meeting while wishing everyone a fruitful deliberation.

 

Delivering his paper, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), represented by the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Titilayo Shitta-Bey-Jeje, noted that Restorative Justice practices work to address the dehumanisation frequently experienced by people in the criminal justice system.

“Restorative Justice is a set of principles and practices that creates a different approach to dealing with crime and its impacts. Instead of viewing a criminal act as simply a violation of a rule or statute, restorative justice sees this action as a violation of people and relationships”, Pedro started.

 

The Attorney-General further stressed that restorative justice seeks to include those most directly affected by a crime in the justice process which are the victims and survivors. The Outcome seeks to both repair the harm and address the reasons for the offence while reducing the likelihood of re-offence.

 

The State Programme Coordinator of The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme, Mrs. Ajibola Ijimakinwa noted that the body has partnered with the State’s Ministry of Justice to sensitise stakeholders, judges, magistrates, prosecutors and law enforcement officers on the Administration of Criminal Justice System in the State.

 

She applauded the Lagos State Government for being a pacesetter in the administration of the criminal justice system while urging other states in the federation to emulate the giant strides achieved by the State.

 

In her keynote address, President and Founder Restorative Justice International, UK, Lisa Rea stated that RJ is as old as man and its approach to crime dates back thousands of years as it has been the dominant model of criminal justice throughout most of human history.

 

“Some of the goals and objectives of the RJ programme include holding the offender accountable in a meaningful way, increasing victim and community satisfaction, repairing the harm caused by the offender, reducing incarceration, reintegrating the offender into the community, increasing public confidence in the justice system and saving time and cost of prosecution”, she said.

 

In addition, Rea averred that RJ is mainly used for cases involving children/juvenile offenders or when the offence is non-serious and there is a need for reconciliation..

Her words, “Courts can apply Restorative sentences in addition to light custodial sentences or may in addition to the agreed terms of VOM, give the offender a sentence such as community service, parole caution or suspended sentence”.

 

She further explained that RJ is about communication, confrontation, accountability, healing, compensation, restoration and restitution. It considers crime largely as an infraction against people within communities, contrary to the more abstract legal explanation of crime as harm against the state.

 

The Coordinator, Lagos Restorative Justice Centre, Mrs. Adenike Oluwafemi expressed gratitude to the Chief Judge of Lagos State, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, RoLAC, Panellists and other participants for the success of the programme while looking forward to more partnerships and engagements in future.

 

Panellists at the stakeholders meeting include the Chairman of the Lagos State RJC Steering Committee, Dr. Akeem Bello; Exec. Director, Restorative Justice for Africa, Mrs. Grace Omoruyi; O/C Legal, Lagos State Command; NCS, Mr. Rotimi Oladokun, SP Yetunde Cardoso, Social Welfare Officer, Mr. Jubril Yakub among others

 

 

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