Faculty: Law
Department: Law




In recent years and particularly since the return of constitutional democracy in 1999, one of the greatest challenges to economic development and democratic stability in Nigeria is the deteriorating state of the criminal justice system leading to high state of insecurity and poor investor confidence. That Nigerian courts and prisons are congested and in highly deplorable conditions is a fact that both the government and its critics seem to be in agreement. Realizing the magnitude of this problem, successive governments at various levels, Locals, State and Federal have initiated programmes and projects aimed at improving the state of criminal justice delivery and access to justice generally. Regrettably, most of these efforts have failed to yield the needed results either because they were poorly conceived / implemented or as a result of the fact they largely ignore the need for innovative reforms that combines the current retributive justice system with a restorative /reparative approach. Although much of the current efforts in mainstreaming alternative dispute resolution (ADR) into justice system in Nigeria focused only on civil cases, the potentials of ADR spectrums in criminal justice administration seem enormous and accordingly call for closer scrutiny. This research work sought and explored the extent to which ADR can contribute to current efforts at justice sector reforms in Nigeria, and other jurisdictions with similar legal history. In conducting this research work, doctrinal research method as well as comparative approach were adopted. Hence, uses of primary sources namely, Nigerian Statutes, Case Laws, International Declarations and Protocols; secondary sources such as Law Text Books; and tertiary sources, namely, Newspaper, Journal Articles, Internet Materials and Textbooks from other field of studies were made. Other jurisdictions where ADR is amenable to all criminal cases such as Canada, Australia, USA, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and Ethiopia were compared with Nigeria. The study found that it appears that alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is working in Nigeria criminal justice system but behind the camouflage of discouraging legislative language, thus, the serious widespread misleading notion that ADR processes are not amenable to criminal matters; stigmatization of offenders and lack of scheme for re-integration of convicted persons after they may have finished serving their term; and lack of adequate mechanisms to restore the victims of crime to pre-criminality status quo as much as possible. This showed that the Nigerian criminal justice system is in dire need of an urgent reform. The study recommended mass public awareness / sensitization of ADR to the public; initiation of programmes for the re-integration of ex-offenders; and the need for immediate statutory regulation and institutionalization of victim remedies in Nigeria: A proposed Victim Remedies Act will, for example, set policy, establish federal funding for victims and create institutions such as a Crime Victims Mediation and Compensation Board / Authority to administer victim remedies. A similar normative order could be adopted at State level.