Nigeria’s justice sector is beset by a myriad of challenges ranging from delay in administration of justice to heavy dockets that confront increasingly overworked judicial officers.

Other issues include lack of judicial autonomy and inadequate resources, poor investigation, overhang in the awaiting trial population and low level of adoption of technology and innovation, to name a few.

Against the backdrop of these longstanding challenges and the swearing-in of a new Attorney General and Minister of Justice, CITY LAWYER asked eminent Bar Leaders and justice sector stakeholders to plot a blueprint on the priorities to be tackled by the new Chief Law Officer.

MR. MUTALUBI OJO ADEBAYO SAN, former Oyo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, argues that unless Nigeria’s courts are digitalize and anti-graft agencies unbundled, the dysfunction in the justice system will persist


Firstly, let me seize this opportunity to congratulate Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN on his well-deserved and fitting appointment as Honourable Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a round peg in a round hole.

Topmost is that I want the new HAGF to ensure that all the Federal Courts are fully digitalised. Enough of our Judges writing in long hands. He should appeal to and enjoin the 36 states’ Attorneys-General to also follow suit in their respective State High and Magistrate’s courts.

To fully drive home the project and ensure its successful implementation, the HAGF should seek the Federal Executive Cabinet to establish the Justice Sector Reform and Development Fund.

I envisage and anticipate a hostile challenge from the judiciary and their sympathisers who may throw up an argument that the agency should be under the full control of the judiciary. The HAGF should not be taken in by that selfish and myopic contention because my experience as the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State in 2011-2015 has shown and taught me a great lesson – that our judiciary lacks the capacity and the capability to do any meaningful capital development for the justice sector without our heads of court getting their fingers burnt in the process, as they are greatly vulnerable to the manipulations of the more experienced but very corrupt Administrative and  Accounting  Officers in the judiciary.

Also, the Honourable Attorney-General must confront headlong the monstrous corruption in all the nation’s sectors including the judiciary. Our bane in this country is corruption which is an existential problem to our nationhood. Once the HAGF successfully prosecutes and secures conviction of some major politically exposed persons in a transparent and fair manner, all other potentially corrupt persons would sit up and turn a new leaf. Corruption cannot be totally eradicated but it can be drastically reduced using the instrumentality of laws.

Happily enough, the new Sheriff in town, the learned Silk Prince Lateef Fagbemi is a man reputed for great courage, resilience, doggedness and uncompromising in any noble cause. He does not mince words and is renowned for calling a spade by its name where others will call it a simple farm tool. I can confidently assert without mincing words that the country’s fight against corruption is entering a new dawn with his appointment and swearing-in as the HAGF.

The brand new Attorney-General has rightly hit the nail on the head himself when he appeared before the Senate for screening and clearance by unequivocally stating in an unmistaken term that all our anti-graft agencies – the EFCC, ICPC, DSS and all others who presently combine the twin powers of investigation and prosecutorial – shall be unbundled in a manner as to separate within the same agency, the investigating powers from the prosecutorial powers. Indeed, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I will only need to appeal to the new HAGF to see this great  initiative of his to a logical conclusion in order to keep clean and pollution-free the stream of the fight against corruption in our dear country which at presently is in a rotten, messy, chaotic and riotous state largely due to  vesting of the agencies involved with both investigative and prosecutorial powers.

I wish the thoroughbred professional, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, a most successful tenure of office.

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