Prominent stakeholders within the Restorative Justice (RJ) sphere in Lagos State emphasised the crucial need for increased awareness of the programme’s benefits, aiming to alleviate the strain on the courts, Nigeria Correctional Service, police, and the wider community.
This call came during a Thursday stakeholders’ engagement on Restorative Justice, orchestrated by the Lagos State RJ Centre under the Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the European Union Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme 11 (RoLaC 11).
Restorative Justice operates as a process involving all parties impacted by a specific offence, collectively working towards resolving the aftermath of the crime. It stands as an alternative perspective on crime and conflict, focusing on holding offenders accountable in a more meaningful manner.
Under the theme, “Restoring dialogue, solidarity, and Justice in today’s society,” stakeholders voiced concerns regarding the limited understanding of restorative justice among various individuals, including offenders, victims, law enforcement, lawyers, and community leaders. They urged for comprehensive engagements to bridge this knowledge gap.
Additionally, stakeholders stressed the importance of integrating a clear understanding of the RJ process for offenders being released through this mechanism, emphasising the need for information dissemination at various forums such as the Nigerian Bar Association Conferences, legal gatherings, Magistrates’ conferences, Nigeria Correctional Service Centers, and police gatherings.
Mrs. Ajibola Ijimakiwa, the Coordinator of RoLaC in Lagos State, highlighted the low number of cases referred to the RJ hub in Lagos, expressing the need to identify and address challenges hindering greater utilisation of restorative justice.
The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, underscored the event’s purpose in elevating awareness about the significance of restorative justice, emphasising the courts’ role in encouraging and leveraging its benefits.
Echoing this sentiment, Mr. Lawal Pedro, the Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State, highlighted RJ’s potency in resolving conflicts and repairing harm, focusing on healing and reconciliation rather than punitive measures. Pedro emphasised the initiative’s dedication to a justice system fostering trust and harmony within the community.
The event drew over 70 participants from various entities, including the Ministry of Justice in Lagos State, NBA, Nigerian Correctional Service, NGOs, Ministry of Education, and the police, highlighting the collective commitment towards enhancing the understanding and implementation of restorative justice in Lagos.