Remarks by the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Barr Onofiok Luke,
following the passage of the Akwa Ibom State Administration of Criminal Justice Law yesterday, the 21st Day of March, 2017.
Dear colleagues, it is approximately two weeks (the 9th Day of March, 2017) since ‘this House’ painstakingly passed into law, the Appropriation Bill; and a little less than one month to the passage of a law to protect our physically challenged brothers and sisters against all forms of discrimination. Today, this house has taken another phenomenal step by passing into law, the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill. As you are aware, there are several pending Bills which the House is working tirelessly to pass into law to fulfill and satisfy the needs of our people and for the development of our dear State.
It is worth noting that this House is considering a good number of bills in line with our legislative agenda. Key in the agenda is our determination to give legislative backing to ideas and innovations which will strengthen the economic climate and create congenial atmosphere to attract investment opportunities to our State. Our resolve to make this law was engendered by the need to harmonize the administration of criminal justice in Akwa Ibom State with other States in the Federation and in line with international best practice in criminal jurisprudence and the enormous benefits which our state stands to gain. Among other advantages, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) will enhance uniformed and speedy disposal of criminal cases in our courts and also ensure effective management of the criminal justice institutions.
The Administration of Criminal Justice Law is evenhanded; the law, on the one hand, provides for the protection of our society from crime and criminality, and on the other hand, makes provision to protect the rights and interest of defendants standing trial or awaiting trial. The law sets a uniformed procedure and guidelines for criminal trial and sentencing. ACJL provides for Plea bargain, licensed bondsperson, process service agents, suspended sentence, non-custodial orders, suspended and community service which are proactive, innovative and novel legal mechanisms to enhance prompt and speedy dispensation of criminal justice as practised in advanced legal climes.
Let me reiterate that as a House, our commitment to making effective laws is a fundamental priority. With the dedication, legislative skills and intellectual capacity of this Assembly, the unparallel dedication of our staff and the cordial relationship with the executive and judicial arms of government, I can safely say that we have all it takes to remain one of Nigeria’s finest and most performing legislatures. I assure you that, with God, and your cooperation, we will stop at nothing to perform our legislative duties even more.
Let me exploit this opportunity to thank the various stakeholders whose informed inputs, during the public hearing on the bill, helped us to arrive at this timely legislation. I acknowledge, with deep appreciation, the contribution of the Judiciary, represented by the immediate past Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Steven Okon (Rtd.) and Hon. Justice Augustine Odokwo; we thank Mr. Uko Udom (SAN), Ekpenyong Ntekim Esq. (former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Akwa Ibom State), Aniekan Akpan Esq. Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Uyo branch and Chairmen of Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Oron branches of the NBA; and Goodwill Umoh Esq. for their sound contributions at the public hearing. We put on record the intellectual imputes from the various departments of the Ministry of Justice, Akwa Ibom State and legal Department of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
This House is also very grateful to other legal practitioners within and outside the State; Human Rights groups, Law Enforcement Agencies and other stakeholders, whose written and oral submissions formed the backbone of this law.
We deeply acknowledge the hard work and due diligence of the House Committee on Judiciary, Justice, Human Rights and Public Petitions, ably chaired by Hon. Aniefiok Dennis. It is evident in the report that the committee spent quality time and energy to do a thorough job on the bill. We are no less thankful to the legislative and support staff whose efforts also facilitated the passage of this bill.
It is my prayer that as you have laboured to deliver this dividend of democracy to our dear state in your little capacity, God will honour and reward you immeasurably. Amen
Congratulations Akwa Ibom State, You have a new Law which shall change our common destiny for good.