The Lagos State Ministry of Justice has urged members of the public to take advantage of Restorative Justice (RJ) as an alternative to incarceration or statutory punishment for minor offences.
The State’s Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs. Olayinka Adeyemi, gave the advice on Lagos Traffic Radio, Ikeja, on Tuesday, while creating awareness about Restorative Justice for victims and its benefits for the society, as part of activities to celebrate “Y2021 Restorative Justice Week”.
She affirmed that the Ministry, under the leadership of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), has continued to ensure speedy dispensation of justice, which is key to an effective administration of justice and aligns with the T.H.E.M.E.S Development Agenda of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
“Restorative Justice is about finding a way to establish communication between the offender and the victim. For offenders, the RJ programme offers an opportunity to take responsibility for the harm they have caused and likewise seek for clemency from the victims; it aims to reduce the feeling of anger”, she said.
Mrs. Adeyemi noted that Lagos State is hosting this year’s edition because it believes Restorative Justice promotes and maintains a healthy relationship between the offender and victim by respecting and listening to the opinions of the public as people are more likely to forgive when they tell their stories.
Pointing out that Restorative Justice also repairs any harm done by offenders and ensures that the parties involved in the crime do not go back to cause more harm in the society, the Director of Public Prosecution maintained that the programme will decongest the courts, correctional facilities and ensure speedy dispensation of justice in the State.
The Coordinator, Prison Fellowship of Nigeria and Member of the Lagos State Restorative Justice Committee, Mr. Benson Iwuagwu, confirmed during the media appearance that the Week is celebrated annually to acknowledge the impact and achievements of the Restorative Justice approach and its application in Nigeria.
He said: “Some of the benefits of Restorative Justice include enhancing community involvement in the dispute resolution process, helping the victims and offenders live with the burden of offence and preventing re-occurrence”.
Iwuagwu averred that Restorative Justice Processes have great potentials to empower victims and survivors of crimes and offer them closure, stating that RJ can serve victims of different types of crime, most especially minor cases.
The Coordinator also mentioned that the people affected by the crime should be able to take part in the resolution, which can also be therapeutic to victims, offenders and the society at large.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, however, added that residents can contact the Office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice for more information on Restorative Justice.