‘Sheriff and Civil Process Act 2004 should be abolished’
Access to Justice (A2J) has called for the abolition of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act (SCPA) 2004, saying it is arguably the greatest obstacle to the enforcement of human rights in Nigeria.
According to the group, it restricts the ability of Nigerian courts to protect human rights, enforce the rule of law, and check impunity on the part of security and law enforcement agencies.
“When courts adjudicate claims asserting the violation of constitutional rights and award monetary reliefs against governmental institutions or agencies, it is expected that these institutions will abide by the judgments and willingly pay up.
“Not so for a lot of agencies! Often, judgment creditors have to subsequently apply to court for an order garnishing funds from the accounts of any adjudged debtor institution or agency to meet the judgment award.
“However, citing and using this legislation, public institutions including law enforcement and security agencies have resisted efforts to garnish funds in their accounts on the basis of the SCPA”, the group said in a statement signed by it Convener, Joseph Otteh and Project Director, Deji Ajare.
The group said: “One major reason why most efforts to hold public institutions particularly law enforcement and security agencies accountable often draw blank is because of limitations placed on the power of courts of law to enforce their judgments by SCPA 2004.
“Section 84 of the SCPA requires a successful litigant must first seek and obtain the consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation or of a State, if a State account is implicated, before an award of a monetary sum can be obtained from the accounts of the (Federal/State) government or any of their agencies.”
Also, A2J calls on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele to reconsider the Bank’s longstanding history of support to perpetrators of human rights abuses, and to the role it has played over the years in shielding abusers from justice and accountability.
It urges the governor to investigate the abuse of the banking system by public institutions through deceptive banking identity tactics, in order to undermine or resist judicial due process, and forestall the enforcement of judicial judgments; alongside this, to investigate the role of the Central Bank of Nigeria in sustaining these deceptive tactics.
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