In all thy getting, get understanding. So says the good book. Understanding is key.
We probably know that the office of the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General is an important office, but majority of us do not know why the office is said to be extremely important. The money in the office? No. The Power in the office? Yes.
The Power vested in the office of the Justice Commissioner and Attorney General is the Power to enforce Justice to all and sundry yet a preponderant of us still suffer injustice because we do not know the easy way to justice. You will find this out shortly.
The section of the Nigerian constitution that establishes the office of the Attorney General declares thus:
“The Attorney General of a State shall have powers to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any party before any court of law in Nigeria other than a court martial in respect of any offence created by or under any law of the House of Assembly.
- to take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person; and
- to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.
- The powers conferred upon the Attorney General of a State under subsection (1) of this section may be exercised by him in person or through officers of his department.
- In exercising his power under this section, the Attorney General of a State shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of process.” Wahala for non lawyers, isn’t it? We will navigate through together.
The Commissioner for Justice And Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State is both the first lawyer of the Akwa Ibom State Government and the lawyer for the people of the State. The officer’s duty is to ensure that “the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced “.
Also, the Attorney General being the head of the Ministry of Justice, has a duty to provide legal services and support for Local law enforcement in the State and acts as the chief counsel in state litigation.
It is apt to assert that the law establishing the office of the Attorney General of a State in the Nigerian constitution prioritises the role of the office in tackling crime. The section of the constitution aforementioned entrusts the role of criminal prosecution to the office of the Attorney General, stating clearly that the office shall have the right to take over criminal proceedings at any point in time from any other agent of government, in the interest of justice.
Apparently, citizens and indigenes who are unsatisfied with the proceedings of justice as enforced by any other agency or institution, have the right to request the intervention of the office of the Attorney General. This particular power of the office of the Attorney General is one out of several that is largely unknown to members of the citizenry and hence, the issues of dissatisfaction and alleged unfair treatment, abuse and injustice from people in need of justice.
In meeting the requirements and enormous duties of the office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice as a whole, the ministry creates for itself departments and parastatals as follows:
- Civil Litigation Department
- Administrator General/ Public Trustee ( Estate Department)
- Department of Public Prosecutions
- Legal Drafting Department
- Law Reforms Commission
- Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Over time, the office and indeed the Ministry of Justice has through these six departments and parastatals interpreted it’s role, fighting and securing justice for both the government and the people of Akwa Ibom State. Each of the aforementioned departments have critical roles in the course of justice, peace and security, and an appraisal of these departments shall be undertaken subsequently for the purpose of public enlightenment, masses involvement and public benefit.
The Akwa Ibom State Government through the Ministry of Justice and office of the Attorney General is committed to the course of Justice, peace and security for all which is why Akwa Ibom State enjoys the pride of place as one of Nigeria’s most peaceful places and investment friendly destination.
In sustaining it’s status of peace and security in the community of States, the Akwa Ibom State Government through the Ministry of Justice is not resting on it’s oars as improved reforms are regularly made while people oriented policies are prioritised.
In the bid for improvement in it’s services, the Ministry of Justice as well as the office of the Attorney General opens itself to constructive public appraisal and is very considerate to public opinion. The Ministry records a bumper harvest through it’s feedback mechanism while working hard to sustain public trust.
As the completion of the agenda of the Deacon Udom Emmanuel administration emphasises people’s welfare, their security and their prosperity, the Ministry of Justice under the Commissionership of Barr. Uwemedimo Nwoko is not paying lips service to the agenda of public justice. The ministry in outlining it’s agenda, gives focus to injustices suffered by the common man on a daily. Barr. Nwoko is of the opinion that no Akwa Ibom person should be allowed to suffer injustice on grounds of inability to afford the cost of justice and has set up mechanism to undertake the cost of justice, especially for indigent persons who lack the required resources to fight for themselves.
To benefit from this agenda of public justice, members of the citizenry must position themselves to be helped by making their cases known to ready-to-help officials, agencies and institutions of the Akwa Ibom State Government, especially the ministry of justice.
Although an age long saying posits that help looks for no one, instead that it is the helpless that looks for help, the Barr. Uwemedimo Nwoko public justice agenda has been designed such that the Ministry will be practically hawking help down to the doorstep of the helpless. It will however be the choice of the helpless to open or not open their doors to be helped.
Opening the door to be helped begins with keeping abreast with the programmes and initiatives of the ministry so as to hear the knock on the door beckoning on all in need of justice. Reaching out to the ministry before the ministry reaches out to you isn’t also out of place. Collaboration is inevitable in the course of justice. You can reach back if you have been reached out to by this article. Subsequent editions will address the question of the easiest ways to secure justice and the protection of the Barr. Uwemedimo Nwoko led Ministry of Justice.