The Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi and former Nigerian Bar Association President, Chief O. C. J. Okocha SAN were among dignitaries who poured encomiums on senior lawyer and Director in the Rivers State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Cordelia Eke at the public presentation of her book on criminal justice administration.
In his remarks, Justice Amadi noted that the book is an invaluable contribution to efforts to promote criminal justice administration, adding that it is one of the few books on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and Administration of Criminal Justice Law. According to the jurist, “There have not been many books on this subject,” even as he recommended the book to all stakeholders.
On his part, Okocha, who was Chairman of the Occasion, chided the Federal Government for its poor handling of Nigeria’s security, noting that there is a nexus between security and criminal justice administration.
The former NBA helmsman said that “The Federal Government should beef up security in this country from this people they call bandits, terrorists, separatists, whatever. They have sworn to protect life and property. Security has gone to its lowest level in Nigeria. This country should admit that it has failed. Otherwise, it should do the best it can to restore peace, law and order.
“Criminal justice is at the root of law enforcement, because at the end of the day, those who are found culpable for committing crimes must be taken to court and justice will be delivered.”
Eke, who is also the South-South Coordinator of African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), said that she was inspired to write the book, “Criminal justice in Nigeria: A practical guide,” to guide judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers among others in navigating the difficult criminal justice terrain.
Her words: “With over 23 years experience in criminal prosecution and having shouldered various other responsibilities in the sector, I have seen good cases bungled by shoddy investigation by law enforcement agents, prosecutors losing their cases due to lack of attention to detail or non-compliance with the law, Legal Advice wrongly offered, and defence counsel that are unable to take advantage of opportunities in the interest of their clients because they are unaware of legal provisions in their favour. The judiciary is not left out either.”
Aside from Justice Amadi and Okocha, other dignitaries that attended the book presentation include Justice Dagogo-Jack who represented the First Lady of Rivers State, Justice Suzette Nyesom-Wike; the Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University, Prof. Nlerum Okogbule; Mrs. Efe Etomi, President of AWLA Nigeria and Partner at FRA Williams & Co; HRH Serena Dokubo-Spiff, Principal Partner at Serenity Legal Union; Mr. Sylvester Udemezue of the Nigerian Law School who was the Book Reviewer; a representative of the President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice L. T. Senewo; Mr. Elemchukwu Eke, the author’s spouse and Chief Azibaola Robert, the Chief Launcher who took 400 copies of the book for donation to indigent Law students in four higher institutions of learning.
The book is a seminal contribution to the study and practice of criminal law in Nigeria. It is also a compass for persons outside the country who wish to navigate through the Nigerian criminal justice system and gain an understanding of how it operates. It is written from a practitioner’s perspective, and is aimed at identifying and addressing practical issues thrown up on a daily basis with a view to improving the level of criminal justice practice and equipping intending practitioners with the necessary tools to enable them have a seamless practice experience.
The author dissects the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and presents the topics in a reader-friendly manner, with anecdotes from actual courtroom experiences, statutory and judicial authorities, tips for lawyers and suggestions for reforms in certain cases. One of the highlights is the examination of the provisions concerning children in the criminal justice system, whether as victims or offenders.
Eke was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1995. She obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in Public International Law from the University of Kent, Canterbury, in the United Kingdom and has practiced law both in the private and public sectors.
She has published several scholarly articles on the criminal justice system in authoritative peer-reviewed journals and was the Editor-in-Chief of the NBA SBL Business Law News Magazine (2007-2010) and the NBA Port Harcourt Branch BarNews (2006 – 2008). She was also the Editor of the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) Nigeria, Rivers State Branch publication, “Handbook on Widows Rights in Nigeria.”
Eke was a resource person on ACJA at the NBA Annual General Conference (AGC) in 2017 and has presented papers on the subject at various seminars and workshops. She was a Council Member of the NBA Human Rights Institute; Chairman, Prosecution Manual Drafting Committee and Team Lead, Honorable Attorney-General’s Special Legal Advice Decongestion Committee, both in the Rivers State Ministry of Justice, among others. She is also a member of several professional organizations. She is married with children.
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