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1.1       Background to the Research

            Crimes occur every day in our society. There are crimes of physical attacks and there are also instances where the offenders are never found. The importance of criminal justice to the smooth running of the society cannot be over emphasized. An effective criminal justice is fundamental to the maintenance of law and order. The Administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria prior to the emergence of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, had been governed by two principal legislation namely; Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) [1] applicable in the southern part of Nigeria and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) [2] applicable in the Northern part of Nigeria.

            However, the procedural enactments is not only dysfunctional, it is also outdated and absolutely not fit for purpose. This much was highlighted by Professor Yemi Osinbanjo (SAN) while addressing the changes of the Criminal Justice System in Nigeria, by asserting that “…Many of the provisions are outdated and in some cases anachronistic. Besides, the loopholes in the law and procedure have become so obvious that lawyers, especially defense lawyers have become master in dilatory tactics. It has thus become increasingly difficult to reach closure of any kind in many criminal cases. Convictions and acquittals have become exceedingly rare”.

            The criminal justice system lost its capacity to respond quickly to the needs of the society to check the raising waves of crime and to protect the victims of crime. The critiques and lapses in CPC and CPA brought about the desired effect now embedded in the ACJ Act 2015 [3]. The ACJ Act, 2015 responds to Nigeria’s dire need of a new legislation that will transform the criminal justice system, to reflect the true intents of the constitution and the demands of a democratic society eliminate unacceptable delays in disposing of criminal cases and improve the efficiency of criminal justice administration in the country.

            The provision for the reform of administration of criminal justice, were first developed in 2005, by the national working Group on the Reform of Criminal Justice in Nigeria. This Group which was established by the Hon. Olujinmi, SAN was maintained by his successor, Chief Bayo Ojo SAN. This Group consisted of individuals drawn from all segments of the criminal justice sector. The immediate Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), upon assumption, established the panel on implementation of Justice Reform (PIJA) in 2011, to implement the proposals for the reform produced by the National Working Group lender the earlier administration. The panel conducted a detailed review of the proposals, brought up-to-date and adopted an improved version. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 merged the provisions of the two principal legislations, CPA and CPC into one principal federal Act which is intended to apply uniformly in all federal court across the entire federation, substantially, its preserve the existing criminal procedures. But it introduces new innovative provisions that will enhance the efficiency of the justice system [4].

            The ACJ Act builds upon the existing frame work of Criminal Justice Administration in the country. However, it fills in the gaps in these laws over the course of several decades. The contents as revised and updated by the Panel on Implementation of Justice Reform (PIJR), with the support of the centre for socio-legal studies have now been enacted into law. The National assembly have turned the proposals to an Act and passed them wholly into law [5].

            The Act has hitherto help in mitigating some challenges faced by Administration of Criminal Justice system in Nigeria at federal level. The Act regulates more than just criminal procedure. The main purposes of the ACJ Act 2015 is to promote efficient management of criminal justice and speedy dispensation of justice, protect the society from crime, and protect the rights and interest of the defendant and the victim. One essential feature of the ACJ Act is in its deliberate shift from punishment as the main goal of criminal justice to restorative justice which pays serious attention to the needs of the society, the victim, vulnerable persons and human dignity generally. Notwithstanding the lofty provisions of the Act, there are no doubt challenges of implementation. One should not forget that this is a system that has operated for a hundred years and for the ACJ Act to change it, it cannot be an instant change. But the good thing is that there is even a platform for change. Furthermore, the Act provides that victims of crimes be compensated by the accused person, practically, this may be unachievable, because in many cases, the accused persons cannot even afford to pay a counsel to defend then talk more of having the money to pay victims of crime. In a country like Nigeria, where corruption is the order of the day, it is doubted if the ACJ ACT will be applied as it ought to be. In Nigeria, the problem is mostly not with the law, but with the implementation of the law. The law makers should therefore create an enabling environment for this new law.

This long essay thus looks at the provisions of ACJ ACT, particularly those providing remedies and compensation for victims of crime in Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 is a new law, it is pertinent to appraise the law with a mindset of appreciating the provisions. It is given this background that this work in the main appraises the Act to see what point it has deviated from the hitherto existing order, to know what new provision that it has introduced, especially with regards to remedies for victims of crimes.

            This work will try to answer the following questions.

  • What are the remedies available to victims of crime prior to the establishment ACJ Act?
  • What are the remedies available to victims of crime under ACJ Act?
  • What are the challenges this new law face?

1.3       Objectives of the Research

Crime occurs every day in our society. There are crimes of physical attacks and there are also instances where the offenders are never found. In all this cases, it is the victim that bears the brunt. The criminal court is concerned with punishing the offender alone and civil action in which victim may recover compensation is characterized with delays and other procedures including cost which an average Nigerian cannot afford.

Where the victim is lucky enough to prosecute the matter and win the case, there are not enough remedies and the provisions of CPC and CPA on compensation is obsolete and inadequate.

This work therefore appraises the provision of ACJ Act, the extent to which it has provided remedies for victims of crime, which differ from the existing legislation. This work shall also identify the problems related to victim of crime. The research will also try to provide an effective victim compensation scheme and also recommend the amendment of ACJ Act, to provide more comprehensive remedies for victims of crime.

1.4       Scope of Research

This research work is base on Nigeria criminal justice system. The work deals with remedies for victim of crime under Administration of Criminal Justice Act and reference will be made to the existing provisions. Relevant cases and law from foreign jurisdiction will also be employed.

1.5       Research Methodology

This work adopts the doctrinal method of research and the doctrine method of research is classified into primary sources, which include; statute and case laws while the secondary sources include text books, articles, journals, lecture notes and internet which would be employed and to draw conclusions. These sources shall be duly acknowledged by way of foot notes.

1.6       Organizational Layout

This work is classified into five chapters. Chapter one which is the general introduction consists of the background to study, statement of the problem, objectives of the research, scope of research, research methodology and organizational layout.

The chapter two deals with conceptual clarification, the chapter clarifies the concept of crime, the concept of justice, the concept of criminal justice and the components of criminal justice in Nigeria, Historical account of crime.

The chapter three deals with victims of crime in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria, the chapter discuss the psychological problems, problems of identification by victim, delay in trial and delay in restitution, Abuse of the machinery of justice.

The chapter four deals with an appraisal of the remedies for victim of crime under ACJ Act 2015,it is divided into introduction, compensation, Restitution, Penology policies and punishment, victims support scheme.

The chapter five deals with conclusion, that is, summary, findings, recommendations.

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