The Nigeria Governors’ Forum hosted the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) for a discussion on the potential for a collaborative effort with Nigerian states to explore how the people of the country can enjoy better access to justice.
HiiL is a social enterprise devoted to user-friendly justice, which means it is engaged in opening up all avenues that make justice available to the ordinary man, that is easy to access, easy to understand, fair, and effective for all.
HIIL ensures that by 2030, 150 million people will be able to prevent or resolve their most pressing justice issues by stimulating innovation and scaling what works best at any given time.
It believes in improving access to justice and making it more affordable and accessible.
As of recent, HiiL has begun interventions in states such as Imo, Ogun, and they are in the process of dialogue with Kaduna State. HiiL seeks to establish a global language, plus a local interpretation to bring justice to the people.
“A partnership would ensure that the language is brought into reality. We are trying to put Nigeria at the forefront of the movement,’’ said Ijeoma A. Nwafor, the Justice Transformation Country Representative in Nigeria.
Dr. Sam Muller, the CEO of HiiL stated that they believe in people-centered justice. He added that for change to happen, three to four things need to take place. One is that there needs to be data.
Data is not collected widely but through the forum, they aim to have surveys regularly to know what the challenges around justice are?
Secondly, there must be a collection of best practices to know among the justice interventions being put in place, which works and which doesn’t? Charity, they say, begins at home.
For example, there could be intractable family disputes surrounding inheritance that are requiring urgent resolution. Someone must fashion out how to collect evidence, based on what works?
‘‘We need to create capacity on the best practices and share them,’’ said Muller. Another important factor has to do with the delivery modules not reaching as many individuals.
That means building game-changers. The other factor would be bringing the leaders together to discuss the set goals and creating an enabling environment to make things happen.
Theresa Smout, the Director of Justice Transformation said that Nigeria’s 2017 Justice Strategy was impressive and what is needed is to know how to go from vision to mission and ultimately to implementation.
‘‘The question to ask is also how do you measure the results?’’ said Smout in a rhetorical manner.
Smout emphasized that HIIL wants to take the conversation to the next level in Nigeria.
Responding to HIIL’s asks, the Director-General of the NGF, Mr. Asishana B. Okauru revealed that the NGF is eager to partner as that apparently is at the heart of what the NGF essentially does.
The NGF Director-General declared, in the true spirit of the NGF Secretariats' work ethic, that however things go, it is necessary to draw up a plan on how to engage and to set timelines?
He further stated that it is necessary to consider and work assiduously on strategies to attract the attention of the states, for acceptance so that states would take ownership of the program.
The DG concluded that the next best step would be to set an agenda and an MoU. Those expectations should be tied to a strategic plan, and this would be put at the forefront for the Governors.
Kuseme Iseh, a Barrister at the NGF highlighted that the NGF recently had a meeting with the Attorney's General to discuss the harmonization of the criminal justice system.
She stated that the NGF works with different ministries of Justice, but the challenge is that the Attorneys- General are not all aware of the issues on the plates of all the different states.
Dr. Muller said that the way forward would be to have a team sign the MoU. That the Governors are at the center of the vision and each state can have a partnership based on its need, affirming that the vision is to move to state-level surveys to know the challenges that are common for each state and to have a shared vision for innovation language, stressing that data must be the starting point.
By Isioma Ononye,
NGF Social Media Officer