By Chinelo Nwangene
The Centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria, CLEEN Foundation has established a digital resource centre in Anambra state with a pledge to partner with the Nigerian Bar Association to promote accountability and transparency in the administration of criminal justice system in Nigeria.
During the official launch of the centre at the NBA, Awka Branch centre on Wednesday, the executive director of the CLEEN Foundation, Dr Benson Olugbuo, explained that the centre, the first in the South East geopolitical zone and one of the five to be established across the country, was targeted at digitisation of court proceedings and judgments in Nigeria.
Olugbuo, who was represented by Mrs Clara Amadi, programme/administrative officer of CLEEN Foundation, further disclosed that the project launched with support from the MacArthur Foundation, sought to monitor cases of corruption in relation to the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 through a web based open source called Uwazi.
“The centre which presents a human capacity development and empowerment hub for critical stakeholders such as lawyers, researchers, CSOs, the media, judiciary, law students etc. shall be freely accessed at no costs. The centre promises to facilitate easy access to court cases/judgments and to promote accountability and transparency in the implementation of criminal justice system in Nigeria”, he explained.
“We will leverage on the partnership with the NBA Awka to continue to advocate for the implementation of the Anambra state criminal justice law”, Olugbuo adds.
The chairman of NBA, Awka branch, Ekene Okonkwo, thanked the organisation for choosing the Amanke Okafor, Awka Bar Centre, Anambra state as the host of the digital resource centre in the whole of south east. He pledged commitment of his leadership and members of the branch to realize the goals of the project. “I will say that we are most privileged; it means lawyers and general public will have a place where they can lay their hands on good materials that deal on corruption judgments in Nigeria”, he said.
Okonkwo equally pledged to “work with other partners to ensure that this centre is sustained and that current cases delivered at our courts are uploaded for general consumption.
The Comptroller, Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Anambra state command, Barr E.A. Nwakaeze, represented by Mr. Abiakam Chinedu, the OC Legal/Human Rights, thanked the organisation for bringing cases from courts to people’s door steps, stressing that it would go a long way in ensuring greater accountability and transparency in criminal justice system in Nigeria.
Mr. Kene Onukwube, a member of the Anambra state working group on the Anambra State Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), further explained that the digitisation project was a revolutionary initiative because it enabled people to access relevant court cases and judgments anywhere through the internet. “With your laptop, mobile phones or any digital means that can access internet, you can actually access these documents that are uploaded on the CLEEN foundation’s Uwazi portal anywhere. And that’s a game changer”, he said.
By Chinelo Nwangene