Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community has called for the establishment of a Court of Appeal in the state, saying 80 percent of matters at the Court of Appeal in Calabar, Cross River State emanated from Akwa Ibom State.
In a communique signed by the group’s National Coordinator, Clifford Thomas (Esq) and the Secretary, Enobong Ekot, (Esq) and obtained by our correspondent in Uyo on Wednesday, the group regretted that several appealable criminal matters in Akwa Ibom couldn’t go to the Appeal Court in Calabar, because of the huge cost involved and the far distance to Calabar.
It said that indigent convicts must provide about N300,000 for the compilation of the initiating documents for the court as that was the minimum requirement for appeal.
The group added that presence of Court of Appeal in Uyo will not only reduce the number of unappeallable matters on ground, but bring about the speedy dispensation of justice.
It further added that over 100 persons sentenced to either death or life imprisonment who would ordinarily have appealed their matters, could not because of the cost and hurdles of doing so in Calabar.
Also, the group advocated for the establishment of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), as such law would decongest about 30,000 inmates currently held in the Nigeria Correctional Service in the state.
The group said for failing to domesticate the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) passed in 2015 by the National Assembly, Akwa Ibom has lost six years in real time, and over 25 years in virtual time reality in justice administration in the state.
The group stated that the ACJL will help to facilitate the delivery of criminal justice in the state, and called on Governor Udom Emmanuel and the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to ensure the ACJL becomes law.
The Communique read in parts, “Since 2015 when the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) was passed by the National Assembly, it was incumbent for the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to pass the state version, so that there would be speedy justice delivery in the justice delivery system in the state.
“The State has lost six years in real time, and over 25 years in virtual time reality in justice administration in the state.
“Several persons in their thousands are presently denied their freedom of movement and other fundamental freedoms they should enjoy under chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
“About 3,000 inmates are wallowing in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service in their four holding centers in Akwa Ibom State.
“The passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and the accent of same into Law by the Executive Governor of the state, will help the criminal justice delivery system in the State.”