The concept of justice is fundamental to Nigeria’s peaceful and sustainable development. It is an indispensable element essential to our human socio-political co-existence. The socio-political cum economic development of any nation is largely dependent on the laws governing such nation. Just, effective and good laws are leeways to the socio-political economic development of a nation and are paramount for any viable national development. A good law becomes therefore an indispensable tool of governance. It is a channel of social control, regulating people’s conduct and attitude. Obviously, for sustainable development to be attained, Nigeria must be governed and regulated by laws that are fair, just, accessible by all and adequately capable of encapsulating the natural rights of the people.
A Realization of Human Rights and Equal Protection
The UN Secretary-General has referred to justice as “an ideal of accountability and fairness in the protection and vindication of rights and the prevention and punishment of wrongs”. Justice is also increasingly understood as the realization of human rights, including social, economic and cultural rights, as well as political and civil rights. Thus, justice is both an outcome of, and a guideline for, a governance system based on the rule of law. In the 2005 World Summit outcome document, member states noted that “good governance and the rule of law, at the national and international levels, are essential for sustained economic growth, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger”. At the heart of the rule of law lies the notion of equal protection: that all persons are equal in the eyes of the law.
Inclusive Development for Future Progress
Building on these conclusions, the Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, noted that the rule of law was essential for inclusive economic development, social development and environmental protection. The rule of law is the means by which human rights are operationalized. Non-discrimination and equity, participation and accountability are fundamental principles of rights-based approaches to sustainable development. Sustainable development depicts “a moral concept that seeks to deﬁne a ‘fair and just’ development”. It is driven by a conviction that the present generation must not deprive future generations of their right to thriving ecosystems, robust economies and stable societies. That is to say sustainable development is, at its core, a call to address imbalances and injustices created by extreme poverty, growing inequalities and environmental damage.
Causes of Endemic Poverty
However Nigeria has, in recent years, been witnessing a trend of increasing levels of poverty in the midst of its so-called ‘economic prosperity’. According to the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS), the poverty rate in Nigeria has risen to 71.5% using the relative absolute and dollar-per-day measures respectively, in 2011. The 2014 UNDP Human Development Report stipulated that those living in extreme poverty and deprivation are among the most vulnerable. Despite recent progress in poverty reduction, more than 2.2 billion people are either near or living in poverty across the globe. That means more than 15% of the world’s people remain vulnerable to multidimensional poverty. At the same time, nearly 80% of the global population lack comprehensive social protection. About 12% (842 million) suffer from chronic hunger, and nearly half of all workers—more than 1.5 billion—are in informal or precarious employment. In that same report, Nigeria is among the lowest on the human development index, ranking 152nd out of 187 countries. Moreover, the World Bank Group ranked Nigeria third among the world’s top ten countries with extremely poor citizens. From this assessment, it has been established that Nigeria, with about 170 million people, falls among countries with extreme poverty whose over 70% population live on $1.25 (N200) or less per day. Specifically, the report revealed that 7% of the 1.2 billion people living below poverty line in the world are Nigerians. Among the causes of the endemic poverty in Nigeria, as stated by the World Bank report, include harmful economic and political systems, national conflict and violence, human rights abuses, weak government effectiveness and efficiency, weak respect for rule of law, weak control of corruption, environmental conditions and changes, and population growth and changes.
Nigeria and the MDG’s
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are widely regarded as the most ambitious effort to end poverty in the history of the United Nations. In the Millennium Declaration, world leaders committed themselves to “free our fellow men, women and children from abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected”, and to “make the right to development a reality for everyone and to free the entire human race from want”. The series of MDGs that followed were seen as a roadmap for implementation of these aspirations. According to some observers, the marriage of norms to measurable indicators was one of the most powerful ideas the United Nations has ever generated.
All official reports indicate that Nigeria is unlikely to meet any of the eight MDGs in 2015. Although there were some gains in achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, like in many other countries gender inequities in health and education went largely unaddressed. There was insufficient awareness of the role that discrimination and marginalization played in the distribution of resources, in services and at key junctures of the development process. Not enough attention was paid to legal discrimination against women and girls or to legal empowerment as a means of combatting poverty and gender inequality. Accountability for delivering on development processes was often lacking. The absence of any meaningful targets and indicators on the rule of law, human rights and democratic governance significantly reduced the development impact of the MDGs. The squandering of funds, lack of accurate data, misallocation of state and local government funds, and capacity constraints of federal, state and local governments have largely impacted service delivery negatively in Nigeria.
Making Access to Justice Effective
To rescue Nigeria from the doldrums of prevailing abject poverty, corruption, insecurity, maladministration, poor infrastructures and underdevelopment amidst huge oil wealth, access to justice must be secured as part of the final post 2015 development agenda. The term ‘access to justice’ refers to judicial and administrative remedies and procedures available to a person (natural or juristic) aggrieved or likely to be aggrieved by an issue. It also refers to a fair and equitable legal framework that protects human rights and ensures delivery of justice. It includes promotion and defense of rule of law and good governance. Without effective access to justice there is no effective legal protection of human rights. That is why the legislatures or parliaments, governments and courts in Nigeria have a positive duty to translate the ideal of effective access to justice into practical reality. Failure to provide citizens with protection from crime, human rights abuses and violation and ensure access to justice will surely impedes sustainable development.
Living on the Margins
According to the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (CLEP), around the world more than four billion people are living outside the reach of the law—mostly because they are poor. They are unfairly driven from their land, denied essential services, extorted by officials, excluded from society, and intimidated by violence. Lack of legal power and protection has been
noted as a major reason why most people fall into, and remain, in extreme poverty. Their lack of legal protection is a source of repression and an affront to human dignity. Poverty is a multidimensional concept defined not merely by a lack of economic well-being, but also by discrimination and severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, clean water and adequate sanitation, health, housing and education. In order to be sustainable, development efforts must be inclusive. Inclusive social development means eliminating all forms of discrimination and ensuring that all, without exclusion, have access to the resources, opportunities and benefits of development. Inclusive practices in one area of sustainable development, such as education or access to clean water, can assist in bolstering gains in other areas such as health or economic growth. In this regard, justice underpins efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in every nation. If the Post 2015 Development Agenda fails to empower people to understand and use the law, those billions will be left behind.
In Nigeria today, 70% of the population who live in abject poverty do not get the quality of access to justice from the justice system which they both need and deserve. Nor do they benefit from the form of safety which the state is expected to provide through its security institutions, such as the police. There are strong linkages between access to justice and gains in health, education and other development sectors. In Nigeria, legal aid lawyers, public interest lawyers, and human rights and justice focused civil society organizations are mostly champions of efforts to enable the equitable allocation of social services, and to address violations of a host of economic and social rights.
Reforming formal and Customary Systems
Improving access to justice requires that both formal and customary systems be made to work justly and equitably. It also means more than reforming legal procedures. It further entails law reform, making courts more user friendly, improving African customary systems and bettering the treatment of offenders. The legal system can play an important role in supporting poverty eradication by giving the poor access to the appropriate mix of rights and remedies. Law and justice sector reforms can provide the foundation for protection and incentives to enable the poor to realize the full value of their human and physical capital. Measure to improve access to justice should focus on developing low-cost justice delivery models, taking into account the cost of legal services and legal remedies, capacity and willingness of the poor to pay for such services, congestion in the court system, incentives of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies and the efficacy of informal and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The poor need a legal and judicial system that is accessible to them and that can make their legal entitlement practical, affordable, enforceable and meaningful. This is critical in protecting the economic and social rights of the many poor and vulnerable groups and communities, and ensuring access to remedy and reparation through non-judicial grievance and dispute resolution mechanisms, as provided by various government institutions such as National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Legal Aid Council (LAC), Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and Public Compliant Commission (PCC). To be effective, Nigeria must ensure that these institutions are independent, well-financed, and enjoy sufficient authority based on a legal framework to execute decisions and provide for adequate compensation or other remedies.
Challenges in Accessing Justice
In Nigeria, there are many barriers and challenges to access to justice that have been identified. They include: long delays of court cases; prohibitive cost of using the system; lack of available and affordable legal representation that is also reliable and has integrity; abuse of authority and powers that result in unlawful searches, seizures, detention and imprisonment; weak enforcement of laws and implementation of orders and decrees; severe limitations in existing remedies provided either by law or in practice. Most legal systems fail to provide remedies that are preventive, timely, non-discriminatory, adequate, just and deterrent. There are gender bias and
other barriers in the law and legal systems, which include inadequacies in existing laws that effectively fail to protect women, children, poor and other disadvantaged people, including those with disabilities and low levels of literacy.
Barriers for Minority Groups
Other barriers and challenges to access to justice in Nigeria further include the lack of, de facto, protection, especially for women, children and men in prisons or centers of detention; lack of adequate information about what is supposed to exist under the law, what prevails in practice and limited popular knowledge of rights; lack of adequate legal aid systems; limited public participation in reform programs, excessive number of laws; formalistic and expensive legal procedures (in criminal and civil litigation and in administrative board procedures); and avoidance of the legal system due to economic reasons, fear or a sense of futility of purpose.
Problems with Current System
The justice system – and by extension the prison system – is beset with a myriad of problems which renders the process ineffective and unable to deliver quality, timely and fair justice to both accused persons, as well as victims of alleged crimes. This has resulted in a near total loss of confidence in the justice system. There is palpable frustration on the part of law enforcement personnel, as well as prison officials, whose role is to keep incarcerated people and provide a smooth process for reformation and re-integration upon completion of prison terms. The present institutional architecture for managing inmates is deficient in many respects and the role of the prisons to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates into society as better citizens is lacking in its basic form. This has resulted in high rates of recidivists and the consequent congestion of our prison houses.
Advancing Legal Empowerment
Access to Justice also includes advancing legal empowerment of the poor, which is germane in achieving sustainable social and economic development in Nigeria. Legal empowerment of the poor is a process of systemic change through which the poor are protected and enabled to use the law to advance their rights and their interest as citizens and economic actors. Legal empowerment is rooted in a human rights-based approach to development, which recognizes that poverty results from disempowerment, exclusion and discrimination. Legal empowerment fosters empowerment, through empowering and strengthening the voices of individuals and communities, starting at the grass roots and from within. To be effective, legal empowerment approaches in a post-2015 agenda should pay attention to informal justice practices, widely prevalent in rural, resource-poor and post-conflict settings. Informal justice systems are often governed by customary practices and norms, including explicit references to religious beliefs. They may involve mediation or arbitration for the resolution of disputes between individuals, relying heavily on restitution as a form of punishment. Legal empowerment approaches seek to ensure that informal justice upholds the rights of women, the poor and vulnerable groups.
Participatory Approach to Justice
Furthermore, legal empowerment promotes a participatory approach to development and recognizes the importance of engaging civil society and community-based organizations to ensure that the poor and the marginalized have identities and voices. Such an approach can strengthen democratic governance and accountability, which in turn can play a critical role in the achievement of the internationally-agreed development goals. It seeks to establish the rule of law and ensure equal and equitable access to justice and tackle the root cause of exclusion, vulnerability and poverty. Security of livelihoods, shelter, tenure and contracts can enable and empower the poor to defend themselves against possible rights violation. In that respect, legal empowerment is both preventive and curative. It goes beyond the provision of legal remedies and leads to better economic opportunities for the poor. More so, legal empowerment often involves efforts to adapt the capacity and sensitivity of justice mechanisms — both traditional
justice mechanisms and formal state institutions — to the needs of the poor. It ensures that efforts by the poor to better their lot are fully supported as a means to increase security, resolve disputes peacefully and enhance development objectives. Combining legal literacy, awareness of rights and public mobilization, legal empowerment can be a major impetus to legal and social reform in Nigeria. Legal empowerment often involves the provision of legal aid – which is a powerful tool to ensure institutions respond to the needs of the poor and marginalized. Legal aid lawyers articulate claims for the poor in legal settings and employ litigation strategies to increase the likelihood of success. Along with public interest lawyers and community-based paralegals, they are critical to raising awareness among the poor about their rights and the processes for claiming those rights.
Rule of Law Frameworks
Strengthening the rule of law is an important contributor to the legal empowerment of the poor. The Declaration adopted at the High level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law in September 2012 stated that the “advancement of the rule of law at the national and international levels is essential for sustained and inclusive economic growth, sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and hunger and the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, all of which in turn reinforce the rule of law”. The rule of law strengthens laws and policies to drive transparency and participation and steers responsible and equitable investments in economic, social and environmental priorities. It builds the capacity of institutions to eradicate poverty, uphold human rights and ensure the sustainable governance of resources; and empowers individuals and groups to claim their rights, including to resources and services and demand accountability. Effective rule of law frameworks ensure that the poor and marginalized are able to enjoy equal rights and are given space to participate in planning processes. By doing so, rule of law frameworks also promote peace, stability and social harmony. Well-formulated rule of law frameworks promote equality and fair treatment by ensuring equal opportunity and non-discriminatory access to services and resources critical to human development. Effective rule of law frameworks promote accountability by ensuring that individual actors and institutions execute agreed-upon processes and actions that lead to development gains. The rule of law activates investments and enhanced efficiencies that lead to competitive economies. It can strengthen the post- 2015 development agenda by turning the poor and marginalized into empowered agents of development. There is stronger appreciation that the poor and marginalized must be treated as equal partners in the process of development, and be given the tools and knowledge necessary to hold the state and other actors accountable for delivering on their commitments.
Claiming Health and Education Rights
In Nigeria, rule of law can strengthen the capacity of rights holders, particularly the poor and marginalized, to claim and realize their rights through awareness campaigns and civic education. It can also increase the representation of those groups in society and government to help enact laws protecting their rights. Health and education are emerging as priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. To have optimal impact, these basic social rights must be enshrined in national laws and implemented with a focus on those who are most likely to be left behind, including women and the poor. Particularly, current constitutional amendments in Nigeria must include making Chapter II of the Nigeria Constitution-“Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy” justiciable. Nigeria must support a post-2015 development agenda that is based on strong legal frameworks that focus state attention and resources on social development objectives, such as health and education. The law is central to assuring the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health and social well-being. Constitutions and laws help respect, protect and fulfill the right to health, including through the regulation of the health sector and services, and of other sectors which affect the social determinants of health. Fighting discrimination and providing access to justice can be important for ensuring the right to health, for example, strengthening the legal response to HIV and AIDS, fostering awareness of publichealth goals and human rights among government officials, and among those communities most at risk of HIV infection.
Ensuring Legal Identity
Furthermore, Access to Justice includes ensuring legal identity of Nigerian citizens. The lack of legal identity can hinder freedom of movement, access to education, property, and social services, including justice services. According to the High Level Panel report, about a million births per year go unregistered, leaving these children on the margins of society, unaccounted for in schools and hospitals. Later in life, the lack of legal identity makes it difficult to open bank accounts and secure land or property rights. Also, it includes access to basic legal information. Access to information for citizens, civil society and private sector groups is critical to ensuring effective use of government resources towards sustainable growth. It ensures transparency of government processes – including budgetary and procurement processes – and allows progress towards development objectives to be tracked. The poor and marginalized groups require information in order to engage meaningfully in development initiatives, to take advantage of income generating opportunities, and to protect themselves from land seizures and labor exploitation. Access to information, including legal information, is also critical to the realization of inclusive development. People should know about the laws and regulations that govern their lives, particularly those concerning essential services. States should commit to disseminating simple and clear statements of law and policy. They should also grant people an enforceable right to information to ensure that laws and regulations are implemented effectively.
Restricting Access to Markets and Financial Services
Access to markets and financial services for all is a prerequisite of sustainable development and economic growth in Nigeria. There is a strong correlation between inequitable access to markets and financial services on the one hand, and poverty and lack of voice on the other. When the poor are locked out of the marketplace due to discrimination, a lack of legal awareness and education, or artificial barriers erected to enrich middlemen at the expense of primary producers, poverty persists and the contributions of the poor and marginalized groups go wasted. Economies are weaker and less efficient as a result. Access to markets and financial services requires legal reform to ensure active contributions of the poor. Reforms may include the enactment of laws that provide incentives to financial institutions to reach out to underserved communities, or laws that support micro-finance opportunities coupled with strong regulations governing lenders. Legal empowerment initiatives can ensure that the poor and marginalized realize equitable access to markets and financial services in order to sell their products, services and labor without obstacles.
Guaranteeing Land Rights
Secured land rights for the poor can significantly boosts economic activity in Nigeria. Research has shown that secure land tenure generally leads to greater land production, preservation efforts and food security. Furthermore, the issuance of title deeds has been shown to increase the value of land held in rural areas. Approximately three billion people around the world live without secure rights to what are often their greatest assets: their lands, forests and pastures. Increasing demand for land is leading to exploitation and conflict. Giving communities the power to manage their land and natural resources would reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. In Nigeria, 70% of the populations are rural dwellers who have a lot of arable land. Yet conversions of customary lands to government and private use, without due process or compensation, are prevalent. In many contexts, customary rules on land ownership offer insufficient protection mostly to vulnerable groups.
Reform Land Tenure System
In this regard, there is an urgent need to reform Nigeria’s land tenure system and review the Land Use Act in consideration of the poor and vulnerable people and communities. Legal drought in many areas and significant losses of arable land. Furthermore, the poor and vulnerable (especially indigenous groups) must be empowered to demand action when their environment is spoiled, their livelihoods stolen and their land and water rights violated.
Strengthening Environmental and Sustainable Development
Nigeria is a mono-culture economy with oil and gas contributing 99% of export revenues, 78% of government revenues and 39.8% of GDP. Therefore, Nigeria must support and promote a post-2015 development agenda that is based on strong legal systems capable of protecting the environment and promoting sustainability, through the provision of enforcement mechanisms and strong local regulations, including environmental and social impact assessments. Legal frameworks may also involve provisions for regulating natural resource extraction and participatory processes for impacted communities. To support the protection of the environment and promote sustainability, the post-2015 development agenda Access to Justice goal should include a target to provide for the enactment of strong environmental protection and sustainable development laws, coupled with implementation provisions, including budgetary support and capacity building of key institutions. Strengthening the capacity of law and justice institutions in environmental and sustainable development matters, including measures to ensure the needs of future generations are considered in decision-making, is highly necessary. The rights of indigenous people to participate in natural resource management are increasingly recognized in international and domestic law and policy.
awareness of land titling procedures is also necessary, as well as greater access to administrative authorities for rural communities. Furthermore, the enforcement of ownership rights must be secured through justice and security institutions expeditiously. Strong property rights protection is also required to ensure that women can engage as productive agents of economic growth, and avoid destitution in case of widowhood and divorce. Where land is securely held, women are better able to support themselves, encourage extended family support, and otherwise turn land related assets into health care, education services and material items required for survival. Securing property rights for all individuals, including women, is necessary to improve financial stability and personal safety.
Protecting Women’s Rights
In Nigeria, Access to Justice will guarantee women’s human rights protection and empowerment. Ending gender discrimination and empowering women and girls is very important to sustainable development. To that effect, legal empowerment approaches should often focus on the realization of women’s rights, challenging the structural norms and discriminatory practices that perpetuate women’s inequality, sensitizing justice and security institutions to the special needs of women. Legal empowerment programs for women should often involve securing women’s rights related to inheritance, property and child custody, as well as domestic violence and sexual violence issues coupled with efforts to ensure psychological and social support throughout the dispute resolution process. The law is an essential tool for advancing women’s and girls’ rights and equality. A robust and effective legal system based on the rule of law is central to assisting women to become equal partners in decision-making and development. When a society is governed by the rule of law, with an accessible and just legal system, women can thrive, contribute to the system and improve it for future generations. The rule of law requires that laws are free from bias and discrimination, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and consistent with international human rights norms and standards.
Violence against women in Nigeria has become a norm, which ranges from domestic violence and wife battery, to early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation and vesico-vaginal/rectal fistulae, widow torture and disinheritance, sexual harassment, sexual violence and rape, assault, trafficking and forced prostitution. Violence against women is a form of discrimination that denies a woman’s capacity, agency and dignity. In addition to being a pernicious violation of human rights itself, violence complicates a woman’s ability to access education, health care and a host of other social rights. Furthermore, it has proven negative effects on childhood development and reduces social cohesion. Ensuring women’s rights through abolishing legal discrimination and providing greater access to justice builds women’s confidence in their future and instills them with a greater sense of freedom of choice. This, in turn, leads to greater investments in their health, well-being and productive endeavors.
The Impact of Climate Change on the Most Vulnerable
In Nigeria, Access to Justice will greatly help ensure environmental protection and sustainability. Environmental deterioration and climate change have been identified as existential threats to the health and wellbeing of all, especially the poorest and most marginalized groups. The situation in the Northern region with desert encroachment, in the Southern region with erosions and in the Niger Delta region with oil spillage and gas flaring are clear cases of how lack of environmental protection and sustainability can perpetuate poverty, environmental degradation and underdevelopment. Indeed, it is the poor that are suffering most from environmental disasters, weak natural resource management and shifting climatic patterns. Meaningful environmental protection that balances the needs of humanity with those of eco-systems and wildlife requires robust legal frameworks, aligned with international standards and enforced through strong mechanisms, such as government institutions. Responsible environmental stewardship also requires that institutions be held accountable through legal mechanisms and with the aid of civil society. Climate change is leading to serious impacts, causing extreme weather events, prolonged
Making Communities Stewards of their Sustainable Development
There must be concrete efforts to empower Niger Delta communities and other natural resource bearing communities in Nigeria to govern their natural resources, such as water, minerals and forests, and these can lead to significant returns in sustainable development. They can also minimize disputes over rights to develop and use natural assets. To ensure environmental resources are protected and used in a sustainable manner, consideration should be given to the enactment of new laws to protect the rights of indigenous people to act as stewards of their environmental endowments, ensuring their free and prior-informed consent in decision making and natural resources management. Importantly, the International Commission of Jurist (ICJ) in its 2012 report –“Access to Justice: Human Rights Abuses Involving Corporations-Nigeria” –revealed that Nigerian people whose environment, land and health have been severely harmed by the activities of corporations, face major obstacles when seeking justice. These range from legal deficiencies to prevalence of corruption and lack of legal aid, and this primarily affects vulnerable communities. It was recommended in the report that access to justice can assist communities to secure rights over common land, and give them more control over their livelihoods and greater incentive to preserve their environment.
As negotiation for the Post-2015 Development Agenda goes into its final stage, the poor must be put at the center of development strategies, if efforts to enhance economic growth are to be successful and sustainable in Nigeria and across the globe. The post-2015 development agenda is an opportunity to demonstrate the transformative potential of the law and justice. This will empower the poor by giving them a voice in lawmaking and governance, which allows them to hold institutions accountable for delivering rights and services, and which creates avenues of redress when services are denied and rights violated. By ensuring the rights of communities, as well as business, and by strengthening institutions to curb corruption, law and justice enhances economic sustainability.
By focusing on equal opportunity and non-discrimination, law and justice will promotes social development. And by strengthening participatory frameworks to protect and manage resources, it will nurtures environmental sustainability.
It is conspicuous that African States, in their Africa Common Position (ACP) on the post 2015 development agenda, excluded Access to Justice as part of their six pillars, only mentioning it in the enabling implementation section. Fortunately, Access to Justice has been included as a potential part of the post 2015 development goals in the outcome document recently sent to the UN General Assembly. After more than 100 national meetings, 14 thematic consultations, the High Level Panel report, 13 sessions of the Open Working Group (OWG) plus countless workshops and conferences, the OWG’s outcome document – which outlines its final proposal to the UN General Assembly – contains a goal on Access to Justice and Rule of Law and ten related sub-goals under the Proposed Goal 16. The OWG final proposal, which will now be incorporated into the Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report by November 2014, will serve as an input to future intergovernmental negotiations slated to take place in 2015. It is those negotiations that will generate the final set of development goals.
The recently concluded Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) CSOs/Media Consultative Meeting on Nigeria’s Post 2015 Development Agenda, held in Abuja, has added great impetus to the ongoing effort by Nigeria Justice 2015 Campaign toward getting Nigeria to support and commit to ensuring inclusion of justice in the final post-2015 development agenda. The event has heightened expectations and created opportunity for broad effort by all stakeholders in the country, and helped ensure support for inclusion of justice in the post 2015 development agenda. As the giant of Africa and the strongest economy on the continent (and with Africa as the center-point of all its foreign policy), Nigeria must champion inclusion of Access to Justice in the final post 2015 development goals when the intergovernmental negotiations commence.
Nigeria – and indeed Africa – cannot have a better society nor citizens who live a life free from poverty, injustices, corruption, oppressions, deprivations, repressions, insecurity and underdevelopment without effective and efficient access to justice. Nigeria and the rest of Africa simply cannot afford to leave justice behind. They must support it and ensure it becomes a core part of the final post 2015 development goals, with measurable and concrete targets firmly set in place.
*By Okereke Chinwike, Founder & President, African Law Foundation (AFRILAW) & Coordinator, Nigeria Justice 2015 Campaign. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. LinkedIn: Chinwike Chijioke Chinwike