The Enugu State Justice Reform Committee on Wednesday called for the establishment of a forensic laboratory in the state to aid quick dispensation of criminal cases.
The committee is made up of the representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association, courts, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.
The facilitator of the committee, Mrs. Justina Offiah, a former commissioner for justice and attorney general in Enugu State, who led the team on a courtesy visit to the Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Edward Ubosi, said criminal cases in the state were often delayed as a result of the absence of a forensic laboratory.
Offiah said the only forensic laboratory in use is in Lagos.
She argued that with the establishment of a forensic laboratory in Enugu, criminal cases that hitherto lingered in court would be speedily dispensed with.
Such a development would also help to decongest prisons and police cells in the state, she added.
“Due to the non-existence of a forensic laboratory in Enugu, the judicial process is often delayed while waiting for results from the Lagos forensic laboratory,” she said.
Offiah further informed the Speaker about a Bill on Justice Reform to be presented to the House for consideration.
According to her, the proposed Bill, if passed into law, will stipulate the procedure for arrest, custody and bail.
She added that the bill would also seek to amend the existing criminal procedure law in the state.
“We want to make the criminal law very proactive,” Offiah said, pointing out that the law had already been amended at the federal level.
Offiah added that the Bill would emphasize reform, rather than punishment, in the sentence for convicted persons.
The committee also used the occasion to inform the Speaker of the forthcoming summit of states’ justice reform committees in Enugu in November.
The Speaker, Ubosi, assured the committee that the legislators would assist in the planned reform of the justice sector in the state.
“We will assist you in any way possible,” he said, noting that the judiciary was the last hope of the common man.
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