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AN APPRAISAL OF THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS, WITNESSES AND DEFENDANTS UNDER
THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTCE ACT (ACJA) 2015
BY
BU/17C/LAW/2723
BEING LONG ESSAY SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF LAW BAZE UNIVERSITY,
ABUJA, IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT OF THE AWARD OF
LL.B DEGREE (Hons)
DECLARATION
I, Unwana Imoh Bassey Obioh, declare that the work in this project titled ‘An Appraisal of the Rights
of Victims, Witnesses and Defendants under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA)
2015’, has been carried out by me in the Department of Law, Faculty of law, Baze university, Abuja.
The information derived from the literature has been duly acknowledged in the text and a list of
references provided. No part of this project was previously presented for another degree or diploma
at this or any institution.
Unwana I. B. Obioh …..……...……………………………
(BU/17C/LAW/2723) Date and signature
II
CERTIFICATION
This Project titled ‘An Appraisal of the Rights of Victims, Witnesses and Defendants under the
Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015’ by Unwana Imoh Bassey Obioh
(BU/17C/LAW/2723) meets the regulations governing the award of the degree of LL.B Degree
(Hons) of The Faculty of Law, Baze University, Abuja, and it is approved for its contribution to
knowledge and literary presentation.
Dr Kathleen Okafor ……………………… …………………………
External Supervisor ……………………… …………………………
Signature Date
III
DEDICATION
To the Lord Jesus Christ who inspired and began this work, ending it with success in his name.
IV
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This work would never have been completed without the efforts of my supervisor, Ms. Salma Aliyu
Dutse. I give my sincere appreciation for her patience and understanding, especially, in spite of all
she had to do at the time.
Additional thanks to my lecturers over the years, particularly, Mr. Dayo Ashonibare, whose teaching
actually inspired this topic. I also want to appreciate Prof. Emmanuel Okon and Dr. Sylvanus
Barnabas for their own contributions, guidance and support.
Finally, my most heartfelt gratitude to my family. My father, Dr. Imoh Bassey Obioh, for his constant
support and guidance, my mother Dr. Gloria Imoh Bassey Obioh for her love, encouragement and
prayers and my siblings Ms. Eme Imoh Bassey Obioh and Ms. Uduak Imoh Bassey Obioh for all
their care. Their unwavering belief in my person throughout the writing of this project was extremely
precious to me and allowed me to pull through successfully.
V
ABSTRACT
This long essay aims to examine the existence of rights, under the provisions of the Administration
of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, accorded to victims of crime, witnesses in criminal proceedings
and criminal defendants and analyze them through comparison with both the antecedence of Nigerian
administration of criminal justice as well as global and international standards on these rights through
a qualitative doctrinal research of said Act. The purpose of this is to explore the provisions of the
ACJA to investigate whether the Act lives up to the many accolades it has received from legal scholars
and jurists since its enactment. This is because, the furtherance of the rights and interests of such
parties – victims and defendants especially – is part of the purpose set out in section 1 of the Act. In
addition, this long essay will examine if the Act is in line with global and international standards to
accord a set of rights to witnesses, a class of parties to criminal proceedings who is not covered by
the innovative purport of the ACJA.
In order to achieve the above research objectives, this long essay has explored the Nigerian
administration of criminal justice system, from the precolonial era of criminal justice administration
and examine the evolutions until the present regime of the ACJA. The purpose is to provide a
background and foundation for the evaluation of how much progress the system has made due to its
enactment. This long essay then identified the established rights of the concerned parties
internationally as well as the rights provided for by the ACJA in order to demonstrate how well the
Act has done in comparison to these standards, which are the goals of States in the present global
legal climate. After identifying the aforementioned facts, this long essay then undertaken a critical
analysis on the performance of the ACJA regarding the provided rights of each class of individuals
researched upon.
On this, the long essay posits that the ACJA has achieved much in comparison to both its past and its
goals for the future. However, some critical observations and findings as to its specific performance
regarding each party concerned will be highlighted. As a result of the findings in this study, this long
essay recommends amendments to the Act regarding the rights of victims and witnesses as well as
towards elevating the status of witnesses under the Act. It is believed that this will go a long way in
moving the Nigerian administration of criminal justice system closer to the goal of meeting global
and international standards.
Keywords: ‘Administration of Criminal Justice Act’, ‘Rights’, ‘Victim’, ‘Witness’, ‘Defendant’.
VI
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY .................................................................................. 4
1.4 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY ............................................................................... 5
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY .................................................................................................. 6
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ...................................................................................................... 6
1.7 LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................................................................. 7
CHAPTER TWO: CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION OF ESSENTIAL TERMS
2.1 CHAPTER INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 13
2.3 MEANING OF RIGHT ................................................................................................................... 15
2.4 MEANING OF VICTIM ................................................................................................................. 16
2.5 MEANING OF WITNESS .............................................................................................................. 17
2.6 MEANING OF DEFENDANT ....................................................................................................... 20
2.7 CHAPTER CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 21
IN NIGERIA
3.5 THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT (ACJA) ERA ................................... 26
3.5.1 History of The ACJA ............................................................................................................... 26
3.5.2 Purpose, Content and Structure of The ACJA ......................................................................... 27
3.6 CHAPTER CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 29
CHAPTER FOUR: THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS, WITNESSES AND DEFENDANTS UNDER THE
ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT (ACJA) 2015
4.1 CHAPTER INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 30
4.5 CHAPTER CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 42
5.2 SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................... 45
5.3 RECOMMENDATION(S) .............................................................................................................. 46
2. ALL NLR – All Nigeria Law Reports
3. Anor. – Another
5. Cap. – Chapter
6. CCCJ – Court of Civil and Criminal Justice
7. CFRN – Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) 2011
8. CPA – Criminal Procedure Act
9. CPC – Criminal Procedure Code
10. DPP – Director of Public Prosecution
11. E.A. – Evidence Act, 2011
12. ed. – Edition
15. GJISS – Global Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
16. Hon. – Honourable
20. JSC – Justice of the Supreme Court
21. LFN – Law(s) of the Federation of Nigeria
22. LPELR – Law Pavilion Electronic Law Report
23. NLR – Nigerian Law Report
24. NWLR – Nigeria Weekly Law Report
25. Op. Cit. – Opere Citato (in the work cited)
26. Para. – Paragraph
27. Pg. – Page
28. P. – Page
29. Pp. – Page
30. Pt. – Part
35. UNODC – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
36. U.S.A. – United States of America
37. US – United States
38. v – Versus or Against (used in citing case law)
39. Vol. – Volume
X
1. Aminu Ogwuche v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2013)-------------------------------------------37, 38
2. Gabriel Torwua Suswam v Federal Republic of Nigeria and Anor. (2020) LPELR 49524 C.A.-43
3. Godwin Josiah v the State (1985) I NWLR 125------------------------------------------------------2, 10
4. Kabiru Umar v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2013)------------------------------------------------10, 37
5. Okon v The State (1988) 1 NWLR Pt 69---------------------------------------------------------------------------18
6. Sambo Dasuki v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2018) LPELR 43969 C.A.--------------------------37
7. Suraju and Olanrewaju v The State (2020) LPELR 49569 S.C.---------------------------------------43
8. R v Okoye (1950) 19 NLR 103--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------17
XI
1. Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015-----------------------------------------------------------1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43,
44, 45, 46, 48
3. Criminal Procedure Act Cap. C41 LFN, 2004-----------------------------------------------------------2,
3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 34, 43, 45, 46
4. Criminal Procedure Code Cap. C42 LFN, 2004---------------------------------------------------------2,
3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 34, 43, 45, 46
5. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) 2011 Cap. C23 LFN, 2004-
-7, 25, 38, 39, 41, 42
6. Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000---------------------------------------------36
7. Evidence Act, 2011-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------17, 18
22, 24, 26, 32, 33
9. Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2013-----------------------------------------------------36, 37
10. United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of
Power, General Assembly Resolution 40/34 of 29 November 1985-----------------------------16, 17
XII
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
As a country with deep cultural history and ancient ethnic civilizations, Nigeria’s administration of
criminal justice system dates back to the pre-colonial times in African antiquity. Before the European
conquest and division of the African continent, the ethnic nations that built their civilizations in the
region known as Nigeria today had their various social operations and systems, including one to
administer criminal justice: ‘Customary law’. Nigeria’s administration of the criminal justice system
in the precolonial era was predominated by the procedure of using local chiefs, tribunals, deities and
their priests.1 The criminal procedure governed by customary law was chiefly adversarial with the
burden of proof placed on the accused, who, in today’s legal context, was deemed guilty until proven
innocent.2
In the present era, however, things are vastly different. The current legal scene is dominated by
statutes and legislations inspired by the English legal system but is constantly being revamped and
reformed for the laws to conform to the current indigenous Nigerian values. Thus, it is no secret or
surprise that the Nigerian legal system – and the administration of the criminal justice system by
extension – has gone through an enormous evolution. The kinds of rights and obligations existing
now are not exactly as they were in precolonial times. An apt indication of this evolution is the
recently enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.3
The ACJA is a statute that truly marks a new era for the Nigerian legal system – and the administration
of the criminal justice system by extension. It has been praised by many scholars as revolutionary
legislation in the Nigerian legal extraction because of its various innovative provisions which
according to many, 4 have done much in pushing Nigeria forward onto the desired goal of meeting up
with international and global standards.5 A large number of these innovative provisions involve or
constitute the enforcement of human rights and other constitutional rights which have been violated
1 See S.G. Barnabas, A. N. Obeta, ‘An Examination of the Coexistence of Statutory and Customary Criminal Law in
Nigeria’ in International Journal of Social Sciences. 2 See O. N. I. Ebbe, ‘World Fact-book of Criminal Justice Systems: Nigeria’ in World Fact-book of Criminal Justice
Systems: Nigeria P.169658. 3 Enacted in May 2015. 4 See M. L. Garba, ‘Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015: Innovations, Challenges and Way Forward’ in National
Association of Judicial Correspondents Lecture, 2017; See also Y. Akinseye-George, ‘Summary of Some of the Innovative
Provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015’. 5 Ibid.
1
and unprotected by the previous legal regimes;6 additionally, they accord a new variety of rights to
certain classes of parties whose interests the Act has purposed to cater for. There is, however, a need
to truly understand the provided/accorded rights especially relative to the history of the ACJA in the
CPA and CPC, its purposes and international and global standards.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Section 1, the long title and the explanatory memorandum of the Act states that:
This Act provides for the administration of criminal justice system which promotes efficient
management of criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice, protection of the
society from crime and protection of the rights and interest of the suspect, the defendant and
victims in Nigeria.7
According to the above, the classes of parties whose interests the Act has purposed to cater to include
suspects of crime, criminal defendants and victims of crime. Tritely, these are all important parties in
criminal proceedings, however, there are a few points of concern. The first is the exclusion of
witnesses from this selection. In comparison to suspects, witnesses are a more important class of
parties to criminal proceedings; they are a powerful source of evidence and are fully engaged in the
most active part of trials. As such, it is puzzling that the ACJA did not include them as parties whose
interests are important enough to be statutorily catered for. The scenario is contrary to the established
dictum of Oputa J.S.C (as he then was) in the case of Godwin Josiah v the State,8 wherein he said
that:
Justice is not a one-way traffic. It is not justice for the appellant only. Justice is not even, only a
two-way traffic. It is justice for the defendant accused of a heinous crime of murder; it is justice
for the victim, the murdered man, i.e. the deceased ‘whose blood is crying to the high heavens for
vengeance’; and finally it is justice for the society at large – the society whose social norms and
values had been desecrated and broken by the criminal act complained of… that justice which
seeks only to protect the appellant is not even-handed justice… but justice sacrificed at the shrine
of guilt.9
6 See Y. Akinseye-George, ‘The Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015: An Overview in Relation to
Criminal Cases Adjudication in the Federal High Court’. 7 See section 1 ACJA. 8 (1985) I NWLR 125. 9 Ibid. per Oputa JSC.
2
While this statement itself does not include witnesses, it reflects the importance of considering the
interests of all parties who are directly or indirectly affected by the committed crimes. Also, Nigeria
is currently a developing third world country, and like other countries of this class, has constraints in
terms of being able to meet up with international and global standards on many fronts. The direct
implication of this fact – especially on the administration of the criminal justice system – is that the
state of the nation has a vastly negative difference from the expected global standards. One such
standard is state protection and compensation of delicate individuals, these may be the crime victims,
the witnesses, – especially first-hand witnesses – or the defendant(s); naturally, the party or parties to
be accorded these rights differ according to the different cases. However, it is a standard that some
basic levels of these rights be accorded to victims, witnesses and defendants in all cases. As such,
Nigeria’s all-around difficulty in meeting up with global standards poses a problem in light of the
provisions of the ACJA concerning these rights. Of course, it may well be that the revolutionary
ACJA has brought Nigeria up this particular pedestal, but that is debatable.
Finally, the fact that the ACJA has continuously been lauded as revolutionary and innovative poses
an issue in itself. Is this assertion true? If so, how true is this assertion? And relative to what terms
between Nigeria’s administration of the criminal justice system’s history – the CPA and CPC – and
the international and global standards on the administration of criminal justice is this assertion true?
These questions need to be answered as a focal point on what will come next in the development of
Nigeria’s legal system going forward. Will the ACJA play a role in that as leading legislation due to
being good enough or will it join the scores of statutes that require reformation? These and other
related issues are the focus of the study for which this long essay is written.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
In response to the identified issues in part 1.2 of this chapter, the study for which this long essay is
written was conducted with the following objectives in mind:
i. To find out the provisions of the ACJA on victims of crime, witnesses in criminal
proceedings and criminal defendants.
ii. To find out whether or not the ACJA accorded rights to victims of crime, witnesses in
criminal proceedings and criminal defendants.
iii. To find out the exact nature of rights accorded to victims of crime, witnesses in criminal
proceedings and criminal defendants by the ACJA if any.
3
iv. To find out whether the ACJA’s exclusion of witnesses from the classes of parties whose
interest the Act is purposed to cater for was reflected in its provisions on witnesses.
v. To find out what status the provisions of the ACJA on victims of crime, witnesses in
criminal proceedings and criminal defendants hold in comparison to the relevant
provisions of the CPA and CPC. Can they be considered superior, similar or inferior?
vi. To find out whether or not the provisions of the ACJA on victims of crime, witnesses in
criminal proceedings and criminal defendants can be considered as up to international and
global standards.
Thus, the aims of this study, in brief, are:
i. To examine the provisions of the ACJA on the rights of victims of crime, witnesses in
criminal proceedings and criminal defendants;
ii. To analyse the wholesomeness and propriety of these provisions in light of the CPA and
CPC, the purpose of the ACJA as well as the international and global standards for these
rights; and
iii. To conclude, based on the above, on the relative truth of the popular assertion that the
ACJA is innovative legislation that pushes Nigeria closer to meeting up with international
and global standards.
1.4 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study for which this long essay is written, covered the evaluation of the rights of victims,
witnesses and defendants, as provided for by the ACJA – in general. The scope of the study stems
from an understanding of the ACJA from the viewpoint of Nigeria’s administration of criminal justice
history and extends to examining its provisions concerning the aforementioned intended subjects
matter and making analysis on the wholesomeness and propriety in comparison to the ACJA’s
antecedent legislations – the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA)10 and Criminal Procedure Code (CPC)11
– as well in comparison to international and global standards on said issues.
However, the study is limited as the above analyses will be based on purely doctrinal research as the
research only involves the analysis of legislation and legal writing. The lack of a social experiment
limits the study in terms of the inability to gauge the accuracy of the results of the study through
observations of the situation reality; thus this study only qualifies as theoretical analysis. Additionally,
10 Cap. C41 LFN 2004. 11 Cap. C42 LFN 2004.
4
due to factors mainly involving the novelty of the ACJA – which has been in force for five years –
there is a dearth of case law on the intended subjects matter. This will reflect in the minimal reference
to and analysis of cases in this long essay. Furthermore, the novelty of the ACJA also influences the
number of writings done on it and the intended subjects matter. All the work previously done on the
intended subjects matter are contained in articles, which are difficult to access. Of course, there is a
possibility that there may be some work or writing done in a book(s), however, the research was
unable to confirm that. Finally, the study is limited due to the short period of research, spanning
roughly three (3) months; the limited time handicapped the research, making it unable to fully explore
the work previously done on the intended subjects matter, for a more thorough analysis.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study for which this long essay is written as aforementioned covers a bevvy of issues which can
be considered important or very important, depending on the audience…