I welcome you all to this Press Conference to acquaint you with the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Criminal Justice Reform Conference.
The conference is the fifth in the series of conferences organised by the NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee and spanning several years. Equally instructive is the fact that resolutions from these conferences have contributed immensely in reshaping our criminal justice sector.
Perhaps worthy of special mention is the ground-breaking Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, which is a direct outcome of some of these conferences.
Instructively, this conference will undertake a painstaking and holistic review of the Act with a view to tackling challenges and plugging all loopholes relating to its smooth implementation.
The conference is billed to hold from April 24 to 27, 2018 at the Asaba Convention Centre, Asaba, Delta State.
The theme of the conference is “Criminal justice administration in Nigeria: The journey so far.” Other thematic areas to be discussed at the conference include unlocking the innovations of criminal justice legislation; Corruption, economic and financial crimes: special courts to the rescue? Human trafficking and transnational crimes: institutional and legal remedies, and prosecution and punishment of electoral offenders in Nigeria.
Apart from the keynote address to be delivered by the Chief Judge of High Court of FCT and Chairman of the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee, Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello, goodwill messages are expected to be delivered by several key stakeholders including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen (GCON); Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; House of Representatives Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and Delta State Governor, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa.
Welcome speeches shall be delivered by NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN, OON) and Chairman of the NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN).
A select cast of leading jurists, professionals and stakeholders will address key areas and sub-themes in criminal justice administration during the conference. These include Hon. Justice Marshal Umukoro, Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi, Prof. Deji Adekunle (SAN), Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey, H. E. Prof. Amos Utuama (SAN), Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).
Others are Chief Okey Wali (SAN), Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Mr. J. S. Okutepa (SAN), Chief Albert Akpomudje (SAN), Mr. Ken Mozia (SAN), Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN), and Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), to name a few.
Other speakers are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu; INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu; Director-General of NAPTIP, Ms. Julie Okah-Donli; ICPC Acting Chairman, Mr. Usman Abubakar; Executive Secretary, Presidential Action Committee on Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye; Chairman, NJC Committee on Monitoring of Corruption Cases and Trials (COTRIMTO), Hon. Justice Suleiman Galadima (JSC, rtd.); Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai and Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mr. Mohammed Babandede (MFR).
The conference has a dedicated website at www.nba-cjrc.org for online registration and sundry resources, and has been certified to award continuing legal education (CLE) points by the NBA Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NBA-ICLE).
Permit me to note that we have received the approval of the NBA National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) to offer scholarships especially to our young lawyers to ensure inclusiveness. Accordingly, all branch chairmen of the NBA Young Lawyers Forum have been offered full scholarships to attend the conference. A communique on key resolutions shall be issued at the end of the conference.
The conference will be rounded off with a Dinner and Award Night. The honorees are being recognized for their outstanding contributions to criminal justice reform in Nigeria.
They include all past chairmen of the NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee, namely NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN); former NBA President, Mr. Jospeh Daudu (SAN) and Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN). Others include Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey, Prof. Deji Adekunle (SAN), Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), Mr. Chino Obiagwu, and veteran prison activist, Dr. Uju Agomoh.
Also to be awarded are Delta State Governor, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa; MacArthur Foundation and Yar’Adua Foundation.
The dinner speech will be delivered by former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Epiphany Azinge (SAN).
Finally, a lot of logistical arrangements has been put in place to ensure a seamless conference and enable conferees to have a memorable experience in Asaba.
Accordingly, the committee – in liaison with the Local Organising Committee – has initiated partnerships with Arik Airline, Air Peace Airline, several hotels and transport companies to ameliorate any challenges that conferees may face.
We are grateful to the Nigerian Bar Association ably led by Mr. A. B. Mahmoud (OON, SAN) and the NBA-NEC for their support towards a successful hosting of this conference. Also worthy of special mention is the Delta State Government under the able leadership of Senator (Dr.) Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa.
Let me, on behalf of the committee and the LOC, assure you all that plans have been put in place to ensure that this is one of the best NBA conferences ever.
More importantly, we are confident that this conference will engender a major turning-point towards ensuring that Nigeria’s criminal justice sector can benchmark the best justice systems in the world.
Thank you for listening.
Chief Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN, FCIArb, FiCMC)
NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee
April 21, 2018