As a means of garnering feedback from the public on legal proceedings in its courts, the Anambra State Judiciary plans to introduce public complaints desks in courts across the state.
Anambra Chief Judge, Justice Onochie Anyachebelu disclosed this Tuesday when members of Justice Sector Reform Team, Anambra State, paid him an advocacy visit in his office at the State High Court, Awka.
The State Justice Sector Reform Team was created in 2012, with the aim of improving the relationship among major stakeholders in the administration of justice system such as the judiciary, the police, the ministry of justice and the correctional service.
Justice Anyachebelu, said the launch of the public complaint desks would begin with the state judiciary headquarters, Awka, and then extended to other courts in the state.
The major goal of the advocacy visit, according to the Technical Committee Chairman of the team, Justice Peter Obiorah, was to table succinct judicial-related issues before the Chief Judge, with the hope of seeking redress or change.
Some of the issues raised by the group included a request to designate particular days for the trial of criminal cases only, for courts to give preference to cases where the defendants have spent two years and above in custody and to devise new ways of conducting court proceedings in view of the challenges of COVID-19.
Other issues raised were to train magistrates on the issue of remand and the need for them to act as sieves, to ensure that only persons involved in genuine cases of remand are sent to prison and not just as charged by police and the establishment of complaint desks in the judiciary.
“The idea of creating this team is have a one-stop centre where the major players, particularly in the criminal justice system, will have a clearinghouse, for the smooth running of the system. It was based on the inspiration from the British Council. The challenges are mainly advocacy issues especially on the need to give criminal cases accelerated attention,” Justice Obiorah.
In his response, Justice Anyachebelu, noted that the proposed launch of the public complaint desks would begin with the state judiciary headquarters, Awka, and then be extended to other courts under the jurisdiction of the state.
The Chief Judge also alluded to the visitors’ request for courts to designate particular days for the trial of criminal cases only, noting that a timetable would be drawn to have magistrates oversee each case only on an assigned day.
“On speeding up trial of criminal cases, the admin judges across the state have been directed to take it up. We also need to sensitize our judicial officers-judges and magistrates to give preference to cases that are up to two years,” he said.
Anyachebelu said the state judiciary is also working on reorganizing its case management unit, adding that with the new leadership appointed for the unit, a lot of concerns raised by the team will soon be addressed.