RoLAC takes stock of achievements in Anambra, preaches sustainability
By Gabriel Chy Alonta
The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme of the British Council on Thursday, February 9, 2023, organized a close-out session where it highlighted the numerous achievements recorded since their inception in 2017, in Anambra state.
Orient Daily reports that the event, themed, “Close out ceremony and presentation of key programme achievements in Anambra state”, was also aimed at identifying challenges that impeded the programme implementation, as well as developing workable framework for sustaining the activities under RoLAC’s four thematic areas.
The participants were drawn across government ministries, parastatals and agencies, as well as civil society and media, who worked under the four thematic areas namely: Criminal Justice Reforms; Access to Justice for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities; Anti-Corruption Strategy and Engagement with CSOs and Media.
While declaring the event open, the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, expressed his profound gratitude to the leadership of RoLAC for the laudable milestone, which, according to him, brought about positive change especially for the most vulnerable people.
Governor Soludo, represented by the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Sylvia Chika Ifemeje, promised to continue to partner with RoLAC in the future should they return to the state with another phase of its programme. He equally commended Anambra State Coordinator of RoLAC programmes, Mrs. Josephine Onah for working tirelessly towards promoting activities around criminal justice, plea bargaining and training of MDAs, even as he disclosed that the state government had budget provision for the prosecution of sexual-related cases to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
In his goodwill message, Honourable Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Onochie Anyachebelu, thanked RoLAC for their interventions despite some challenges, while promising that his ministry would not rest on its oars. He also urged RoLAC to consider choosing the state for their next line of intervention.
In a remark, the Commissioner for Women Affair and Social Welfare, Mrs. Ify Obinabo, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Dan Ezeanwu, said the state drew from the insights of the RoLAC interventions in drafting the ‘Vision 2070’, adding that the ministry would continue to key into the future activities of RoLAC in the state.
Also speaking, the Anambra State Head of Service, Barr. Theodora Igwegbe, represented by the Director, Public Service Office, Adebayo Ojeyinka, noted that corruption was serious and endemic in society, and hailed RoLAC for training and operationalizing anti-corruption strategies in the MDAs, which, he said, would go a long way in preventing corruption.
Earlier, the RoLAC National Programme Manager, Danladi Plang, while welcoming participants, said RoLAC programmes were funded by the European Union, and implemented across five states – Anambra, Edo, Lagos, Kano, and Adamawa. The national programme manager, who admitted that the programme was worthwhile despite some unavoidable challenges, revealed that over 204,000 persons in Anambra out of 1.3 million persons benefited directly or indirectly from the RoLAC programme in the last six years.
Mr. Plang then expressed optimism that the state would sustain the interventions and fully utilize laws like Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP), Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), Child’s Rights Law, among others, in advancing institutional change, while disclosing that the state would soon be notified about the RoLAC phase two intervention and scope by April.
Presenting the component 1 on Criminal Justice Reforms, the Team Lead, Oluwatoyin Badejogbin, said the component was to promote efficiency and transparency in dispensation of justice, build institutional capacity, as well as strengthen the coordination of criminal justice agencies. He, however, decried poor reporting feedback and insecurity as challenges that bedeviled the component execution. Justice Pete Obiorah, who is the chairman, Anambra Criminal Justice Reform Team, gave a testimonial in support of the above.
Similarly, Oluwatoyosi Giwa of the component 2, who spoke on access to justice for women, children and persons with disabilities, harped on the need to improve access to justice especially for the vulnerable persons in the society. His Worship, Genevieve Osakwe, who is the Chief Magistrate for the Children Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court, in response, said she had received 109 cases of SGBV cases in her court, and promised to ensure prosecution of sexual offenders.
Giwa also gave an update on the component 4 dwelling on engagement with CSOs and Media, and charged media practitioners and CSOs to use the knowledge gained during the programme to unearth unethical practices prevalent in MDAs. This was corroborated by Mr. Okey Onyeka of the civil society who highlighted the efforts of the CSOs and Media.
Also Mr. Emmanuel Uche spoke on component 3, and advocated for improved fight against corruption, reduction of corruption in public procurement process, as well as citizen participation in the fight against corruption to ensure service delivery for the state. Barr. Mrs. Tessy Obuekwe gave a testimonial on the component and how ghost workers were fished out.
Mrs. Onah, had in a vote of thanks, eulogized participants, stakeholders and staff that worked with her in the last 5 years, and urged them to ensure that RoLAC’s efforts were sustained even as the programme was closed-out. She equally wished that Anambra is selected for the next RoLAC intervention.
Panel discussions on improving accountability, transparency and access to justice to ensure sustainability by Prof. Sylvia Chika Ifemeje, Dr. Mike Anyadiegwu, Mr. Adebayo Ojeyinka, Mr. Ernest Ugo Okeke and Nkiruka Hope Okoye, formed the high points of the close-out session. The session was moderated by Sir Emeka Ejide. Presentation of intervention documents to Honourable Attorney General, Prof. Ifemeje by Mr. Plang, also added glamour to the event.