Restorative Justice, a Catalyst for Youth Transformation – ICPC Chairman

The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN) has called on the Judiciary to process youths who collide with the law differently so as to create effective social balance and positive transformation.

He gave this charge during his lecture titled “21stCentury ADR Systems and Restorative Justice as Catalyst for Youth Transformation: A Peep into the Future” delivered at the 20th Anniversary Lecture and dinner of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse(LMDC), held at the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos, recently. 

In his paper, Professor Owasanoye stated thatrestorative justice offers hope of reconciliation to youths within the society when they have gone wrong, as it looks beyond the established methods of criminal justice system to focus on restoration of social balance.

He advocated the use of a different method to design the charges of wrong done (alternative to traditional charges), acceptance of plea bargains, and alternative punishment or sentences most beneficial to the victim and community to restore social balance after a crime has been committed.

According to Owasanoye, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) came about as a result of the disenchantment of litigants in civil cases, and victims in criminal cases, and this triggered the emergence and development of an informal method of administering justice – restorative justice. This, he said, compliments and does not replace traditional criminal justice administration and operates for maximum effectiveness within the formal criminal justice administration.

Offences like fights, minor theft, vandalism of school property, extortion of pocket money can go through restorative justice rather than the criminal justice intervention, he posited.

He urged the LMDC to design an effective welfare social response infrastructure such as mediation facilities within police stations and the courts, with well trained staff at all levels of intervention, and preceded by appropriate legislation to properly situate restorative justice within the criminal justicesystem.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, the Chairman, LMDC, Hon. Justice Jumoke Pedro of the Lagos State Judiciary said they will collaborate with the Judiciary and the State to achieve the alternative peaceful resolution method. 

In his opening remarks, the Hon Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba, spoke on the need to reduce the bulk and size of ligations from the courts. He said they had adopted the African way of settling disputes through discussions, negotiations and reconciliation. 

Thereafter, the Restorative Justice Youths and Juveniles Reform Programme was launched. 

The programme featured a panel session moderated by Hon. Justice K.A Jose, member of the LMDC Governing Council, with the following panelists: Mr.Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice; Mrs. Adeyinka Aroyewun, Director LMDC; Dr Akeem Bello, Associate Professor of Law, University of Lagos; and Dr UjuAgomoh, Director, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA).