Ani Comfort Chinyere (Mrs.)
LL.B (Hons.) BL; LL.M., Ph. D
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In most jurisdictions including Nigeria, crime is seen primarily as an act against the state rather than an act against the individual. There is little or no regard for the victim of the offence. At best, he or she is used mainly as a witness without having any influence in the quantum of punishment. The criminal justice system pays particular attention to the rights of the accused, determining his guilt or innocence and punishment where necessary. Justice is actually supposed to be a three way traffic: justice for the offender, the state and the victim.
Whenever crime occurs, victims suffer physical injury, emotional pain, financial loss and often a lack of support and direction. Many victims feel frustrated because there often seems to be no provision for them to be heard. Their injuries are not redressed, and they are not always notified of the court procedures.
The theme of this paper is concerned with what happens to the victim of crime that has suffered loss or harm. How is he treated before, during and after the trial and sentence? The Victim’s Remedies Bill 2006 and the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill 2005 contain provisions for restitution and payment of compensation by offenders to victims of crime. The paper examines the provisions of these Bills and other legislations both domestic and international that appear to give any form of respite for crime victims. While drawing lessons from other countries that have successfully set up effective restorative justice systems, the paper makes substantial recommendations for a more concrete restorative justice regime in Nigeria through the adoption of victim-offender mediation programme.
In Nigeria as well as in every other part of the world, crimes of various dimensions are committed daily. Section 17 of the Criminal Code and section 68 of the Penal Code prescribe punishments that can be meted out on offenders. None of these punishments listed in the sections has the interest of the victim as its main purpose. Research has proved that despite all the disposition methods available, the major concern of a victim in theft cases centers on the return of his property after which he develops cold feet as regards any other invocation of the criminal process.
Victims’ remedy is an adjunct of an increasingly popular concept of Restorative Justice, which has been canvassed severally and is gaining acceptability in so many countries. Restorative Justice has been defined as the process whereby parties with a stake in the particular offence come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future. The use of restorative justice in criminal maters as an alternative dispute resolution strategy has a major purpose of healing the wounded victim financially, socially and emotionally. While the offender is expected to rectify the harms he has inflicted, it seeks to reintegrate both parties back into society as contributing, law-abiding citizens. Restorative justice advocates restitution to the victim by the offender, seeking to make people whole, rather than retribution or punishment inflicted by the state against the offender.
The oldest and most widely used expression of restorative justice is victim-offender mediation, where the victim and offender come to an out-of-court agreement with the help of a mediator.
This paper will explore the benefits of compensation, restoration and replacement as viable remedies for victims of crime. It will also canvass the need for an adoption of victim-offender mediation process in our criminal law, which is practiced internationally.
This paper adopts and proceeds from the fact that the concept of restorative justice derives from the conviction that:
In this paper, the African traditional approach to victim’s remedy is analyzed, while also examining the contemporary and existing statutory provisions on victims remedy, including the efforts of the United Nations at ameliorating the suffering of crime victims. The recent efforts of the Nigerian Government at strengthening legislation on victims’ remedy are not glossed over. The Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Bill and Criminal Justice Victims’ Remedies Bill, 2006 make provisions on victims’ remedies. While the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Bill tried to clarify the victims remedy contents of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the Criminal Justice Victims’ Remedies (CJVR) Bill, 2006 makes substantial provisions on victims’ remedies. The paper canvasses the strengthening of victims’ remedies by a concrete adoption of the practice of victim-offender mediation.
A victim is any person who individually or collectively has suffered harm including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of his fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws. It also includes where appropriate the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization. This is regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familiar relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
Though the terms “restitution” and “restoration” have separate dictionary meanings, they are used interchangeably in certain circumstances. The definition of the terms compensation, restitution and restoration are given as follows:
Prior to the British colonization of Nigeria and the introduction of Common Law and Civil Law based legislations on criminal law, we had our own systems of criminal justice. In some arrears, Islamic Law applied, while in others, Customary Law was applicable. In both systems, there were courts, tribunals, etc administering justice to the people in their domain The traditional African legal system is basically conciliatory in character in its approach to dispute settlement.
This is unlike the British or European law generally, which makes fine distinction between criminal and civil wrongs. While the purpose of civil law is to compensate the victim of wrongful conduct for the injury he has sustained, criminal law on the other hand, seeks to forbid and prevent conduct that unjustifiably inflicts or threatens substantial harm to individual or public interest.
Apart from the different modes of punishment available in the African criminal justice system, there were also customary provisions for compensation, restitution, restoration, replacement and various other rights for the victim. Alan Milner had reported that compensation and restitution had been popular and acceptable means of disposing cases in Nigerian customary courts than in the British Courts. African criminal justice system employs a tripartite approach to criminal justice administration, namely, focusing on the interests of the victim, the community and the offender. Traditional Nigerian judicial systems attempt to restore broken links and the victim of crime is one of those always considered paramount in the judicial process especially in the case of victims of violence, rape, robbery and murder.
Former Chief Judge of Nigeria, Justice Muhammed Bello (rtd) had noted that during the colonial era, over 90% of crimes in Nigeria were tried and punished by the Native Courts, which included the Sharia and Customary Courts, by applying the Sharia and Customary criminal laws which were primarily designed to compensate the victims of crimes rather than to imprison the offenders.
Modern criminal justice system seems to exist for the State and the offender with little or no regard being had for the victim of the offence. While not completely ignoring the victim, the contemporary practice is that the criminal law is obsessed with the process of ascertaining guilt and imposing appropriate penalties for the offence. This retribution dominated criminal justice system with emphasis on punishment, even capital punishment in some countries, still leaves more to be desired.
The inequity in the treatment of the offender and the victim is further noticeable in the area of public expenditure. Whereas the State spend great sums of money annually on apprehension, conviction and rehabilitation of offenders, very few governments spend anything for compensation to the victims of crime. The State invariably sees itself as the victim of crime and endeavors to punish criminals to avoid a break down of law and order. In so doing, the state provides some measure of restoration to the victim of crime.
Although the Nigerian penal law is statutorily enacted here in Nigeria, hence, we are not bound by the common law criminal procedure; yet, the ghost of our common law orientation is still haunting our judges and Magistrates.
When an offender is convicted, the victim merely partakes in the visitation of collective vengeance on the criminal and also “benefits” from society’s alleged achievement of the individuals/general deterrence and /or reformation/rehabilitation.
In most cases, crime victims act mainly as a witness in the criminal process and nothing more. He reports the matter to the police and leaves it for them to decide whether to prosecute or not. Whatever becomes the outcome of the case is no longer his business. He is then left lonely to lick his sores. Where he is involved, he is used as an object of fact finding. He has no influence in the course of investigation, trial and the quantum of punishment.
A search of our statute books reveals that there are scanty provisions dotted in some statutes dealing with victims remedies. Very little and indeed less than marginal emphasis is placed on victim participation. The major remedies evident in our laws are: restitution, compensation, replacement and damages. Even where the legislation is in place, judicial officers make little or no use of the provisions. This regrettable situation has been blamed on the unsatisfactory state of the provisions.
These provisions are not adequate to really confront the crucial issue of redress for the victim. The provisions do not sufficiently address the actual treatment of the victims of crimes. The key legislations include:
Section 78 of the Penal Code provides as follows:
“Any person who is convicted of an offence under this Penal Code may be adjudged to make compensation to any person injured by his offence and such compensation may be either in addition to or in substitution for any other punishment”.
Though this provision is for the welfare of victims of crime, it has been noted that the Area Courts make use of the provision more than the High Courts.
The CPC provision on restitution covers not only property actually stolen, but any other property which may be used in committing or connected with the offence. Section 357 of the CPC refers to “movable property or documents” (a) produced before it, or (b) in its custody, or (c) regarding which an offence appears to have been committed or (d) which has been used for the commission of any offence, and allows the court to order them to be delivered to any person appearing to be entitled to possession of it.
Section 365 of the CPC provides for the award of compensation in addition as a fine. This provision makes it appear as if compensation can only be awarded in addition to fine, thereby stifling the provisions of section 78 of the Penal Code. This provision has also robbed compensation of its quality of being a disposition method on its own, just like imprisonment, fine, etc. 
Like its Northern counterpart, the CPA contains provisions on compensation, restitution and related issues. Section 261 of the CPA provides for the court to order restoration and award of damages where in a charge of stealing or receiving stolen property, the evidence in the opinion of the court is insufficient to support the charge but establishes wrongful conversion or detention of property. This is only possible where the value of the property and the amount of damages awarded does not altogether amount in value to twenty naira. The provisions of the CPA on compensation are inadequate. The major flaw in this provision is that the remedy is only available where the original charge cannot be supported. There is also need to amend this section considering the monetary limitation attached to it, in order to reflect the realities of the present day inflationary trends. Twenty naira is too meager or to say the least, ridiculous to meet the intendment of the drafters of this provision.
Another situation where he court may grant compensation is where the court at its discretion in certain specified cases, decides not to convict despite proof of the charge but makes an order for conditional or absolute discharge or probation.
Under section 263 of the CPA, the property regarding which an order can be made has to be produced before the court. Where the court does not make an order for the destruction of the property, the court may direct that the property shall be kept or sold and that if sold, the proceeds thereof shall be held as it directs until some person establishes to the courts satisfaction a right thereof.
As regards offence involving criminal force, section 267 of the CPA and section 360 of the CPC are almost identical. They provide that a court should put back into possession a person who has been dispossessed of his land by an offence involving criminal force.
Any property other than that used in the commission of the offence, found upon a person charged with an offence is to be restored to the person who appears to the court to be entitled to the property.
Section 268 of the CPA makes provisions for another category of victims. This time, it is not the person who suffered the initial direct impact of the crime, but the innocent person who bought the stolen property from the offender without knowing or having reason to believe that such property was stolen. It provides that upon the application of the innocent purchaser and the restitution of the property to the person entitled to the possession, the court should order that out of any money taken out of the offender’s possession on his arrest, an amount not exceeding the price paid by such purchaser should be delivered to him. There is no provision as to what happens where the amount is not enough to compensate the innocent purchaser. It is suggested that courts should in such circumstance award further compensation.
Section 270 of the CPA deals with restitution of stolen property, the court convicting an offender, may order that such property or a part thereof be restored to the person who appears to it to be the owner thereof, either on payment or without payment by the owner to the person in whose possession such property or a part thereof then is, of any sum named in such order. This provision does not apply to:
This paper disagrees with this section on its position about owner of property making payment to the person in possession of the property. An owner of stolen goods should still have a better title and should not buy back his own property. The proper provision should be that the court should ensure that adequate compensation should be paid to him by the offender or the position in Section 268 of the CPA should be adopted.
The provisions of the CPA on compensation is inadequate because it does not apply compensation as a disposition method following conviction, but only provides for the award of compensation by the courts upon a charge of stealing or receiving stolen property, where a conviction is not possible due to insufficient evidence, but wrongful detention or conversion of property is proved.
Section 31 of the Police Act provides for the restoration of unclaimed property in the possession of the police to a person appearing to the court to be the owner. It is suggested that an additional section be included in the Police Act stating that the property used in the commission of the offence should also be restored to the owner.
Advocates of remedies for victims of crime have a variety of reasons for supporting the initiative. The advantages inherent in a system of justice that provides for some form of compensation or restitution, whether judicial or extrajudicial, are as follows:
The system of retributive justice, which focuses attention on the punishment of the offender, through imprisonment, is more spectacular in its achievement of low efficacy rather than its achievement of security for the society.
It has been noted that the cost of criminal justice, right from investigation and detection, through trial, conviction and sentence, to incarceration or execution has only been increasing as regards the running of the system and the human wastage involved in the custodial and capital sanctions. Compensation will immensely assist in the reduction of prison congestion and public expenditure for the maintenance of prisoners.
It is desirable for a single court (the criminal court) to award compensation at the conclusion of a criminal trial in order to avoid duplication and multiplicity of proceedings, which is a very expensive venture in a country like Nigeria. This has the salutary effect of reducing the work load of the courts, which will ultimately eliminate the chronic problem of delay in the courts. The trial trauma will also be restricted to only one experience for both the victim and the offender.
Such a system of criminal justice brings justice to the reach of the poor who would not have otherwise been able to afford the cost of civil proceedings to vindicate their rights, especially in developing countries where the vast majority of the populace are poor and uneducated and state does not provide legal aid for such situations.
The retributive system of justice has always resulted in leaving society with the conflict/ social disruption which the crime created even in an exacerbated form, as the offender, the society and the victim are often left in a more bitter state than they were at the time of the offence.
Opponents of the restorative justice regime do so on the grounds that there may be possibility of an offender not being able to pay compensation because he is feckless or improvident. There is the argument that the criminal courts are not suitable for considering matters of compensation because the requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt will reduce the number of instances where reparation ought to be ordered.
The United Nations has recognized the problem created by the dichotomous approach of the criminal process which recognizes only the state and the offender as the parties. The United Nations General assembly adopted a resolution on the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in 1986. The Declaration, grants the victims of crime a plethora of rights. It also declares that informal mechanisms for the resolution of disputes, including mediation, arbitration and customary justice or indigenous practices, should be utilized where appropriate to facilitate conciliation and redress for victims. These recommended models appear to be similar to our indigenous African methods of criminal justice.
The Declaration provides for the remedies of restitution and compensation. Paragraph 8 provides that Offenders or third parties responsible for their behaviour should, where appropriate, make fair restitution to victims, their families or dependants. Such restitution should include the return of property or payment for the harm or loss suffered, reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of the victimization, the provision of services and the restoration of rights. Paragraph 9 is a call on governments to review their practices, regulations and laws to consider restitution as an available sentencing option in criminal cases, in addition to other criminal sanctions.
The Declaration also called on states to endeavour to provide compensation when it is not fully available from the offender. Such compensation are payable to:
(a) Victims who have sustained significant bodily injury or impairment of physical or mental health as a result of serious crimes;
(b) The family, in particular dependants of persons who have died or become physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of such victimization.
The United Nations did not stop at the Declaration. Taking into account the existing international commitments with respect to victims, in particular the Declaration, and the desirability and the means of establishing common principles on the use of restorative justice programmes in criminal matters it passed a resolution on Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters.
Principle 2 of the Declaration defines Restorative Process as any process in which the victim and the offender, and, where appropriate, any other individuals or community members affected by a crime, participate together actively in the resolution of matters arising from the crime, generally with the help of a facilitator.
Principle 12 of the United Nations Basic Principles on Restorative Justice states that member States should consider establishing guidelines and standards, with legislative authority when necessary, that govern the use of restorative justice programmes. Such guidelines and standards should respect the basic principles set forth in the instrument and should address, inter alia:
(a) The conditions for the referral of cases to restorative justice programmes;
(b) The handling of cases following a restorative process;
(c) The qualifications, training and assessment of facilitators;
(d) The administration of restorative justice programmes;
(e) Standards of competence and rules of conduct governing the operation of restorative justice programmes
Restorative processes may include mediation, conciliation, conferencing and sentencing circles. Restorative justice practices acknowledge who is hurting, why stakeholders are suffering and what harms must be addressed to restore impaired dignity. With accountability, equity and integrity, restorative justice is a justice that heals relationships ravaged by conflict, violence, hatred and greed. It is worth mentioning that, restorative justice, which is not just justice designed to punish, is being recognized as an emerging human right for victims, offenders and the community.
In response to the United Nations call for states to consider incorporating into their national law, remedies to victims of crime. The Government of Nigeria had in the past organized workshops focusing on the restitution, compensation and remedies for victims of crime with a view of sensitizing the entire judiciary towards achieving the aims of the Declaration. A National working Group on the Reform of Criminal Justice Administration was set up by the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Akinlolu Olujimi, SAN, with a mandate to develop a draft of an Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Bill. The Bill broadened the powers of the criminal court to award costs, compensation and damages in deserving cases, especially to victims of crime. The Bill adopted and improved on the provisions of Section 78 of the Penal Code, Sections 365-366 of the CPC and Section 255 of the CPA. These are now Sections 292 and 293 of the Bill.
By the provisions of Section 292 of the ACJ Bill, a criminal court may within the proceedings or when passing judgement, order that the convicted person shall pay a sum of money as compensation to any person injured by the offence, irrespective of any other fine or other punishment that may be imposed or that is imposed on the defendant, where substantial compensation is in the opinion of the court recoverable by civil suit. The court may also order the convicted person to pay some money to compensate an innocent purchaser of any property in respect of which the offence has been committed who has been compelled to give it up. The court may also order the convicted person to pay some money in defraying expenses incurred in medical treatment of any person injured by the convicted person in connection with the offence.
The amount paid is to be taken into consideration when a court is awarding compensation in any subsequent civil suit relating to the same matter.
The Federal Government also set up a Presidential Commission for the Reform of the Administration of Justice in Nigeria. Part of the terms of reference of the Commission included developing a legislative framework for the protection of the rights of the victims of crime. To this end, the Commission proposed a Bill for an Act to provide remedies for victims of crime. In developing the legal framework, the Commission was guided by local realities and by overseas experience with restitution and victim offender reconciliation.
The Bill when passed into law will be cited as the Criminal Justice (Victim’s Remedies) Act 2006.
The Bill declared the guiding principles of criminal justice administration to include among others,
addresss the social, psychological and emotional trauma suffered by the victim;
Section 3 of the Bill defines the term “victim” in similar words as the United Nations Declaration on Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power
Under the Bill, victims are granted some rights, which fall under four major groups, namely: Pretrial rights, rights during trial, rights during sentencing and post sentencing rights. The rights under the pre-trial group are: right to immediate assistance, right to information, right to property, and right to confer with prosecutor. Under the rights during trial we have right to be present during trial, right to be informed of the availability of the compounding procedure, right to witness fees, right not to be obstructed from attending proceedings by employer, right to protection, right to speedy trial in certain cases, right to give evidence of injury, loss or damage, and right to be informed of adjournment.
The rights during sentencing include: the right to appeal against an order of restitution or compensation and right to be notified of an appeal against conviction or sentence. Under post sentencing rights, the victim is to be informed of the execution of the sentence and is entitled to police protection.
Unlike the various criminal justice statutes that make scanty provisions on victim’s remedies, the CJVR Bill makes copious provisions on victim’s remedies. The remedies a court may grant a victim of crime under the CJVR Bill are compensation and restitution.
Section 25 of the CJVR Bill provides that when sentencing an offender convicted of a crime, the court may in addition to or in lieu of any other penalty authorized by law, order the offender to make or pay compensation to any victim of the crime or to the victim’s estate. Where any other penalty, like fine is also ordered, priority is accorded to execution of the restitution or compensation order.
Under the CJVR Bill, restitution or compensation may be ordered notwithstanding a discharge or acquittal. The court may order an offender to make restitution or pay compensation to the victim, if on ordinary standard of proof of civil liability, a civil court would, on the evidence adduced at the trial, have ordered restitution or compensation to be made or paid to the victim by the offender.
It had earlier been suggested by Adeyemi A. A. that victim remedy should exist even where the court finds evidence of the commission of the offence but does not proceed to conviction, or where it acquits the offender of the offence charged but has enough evidence to establish a civil wrong, such as the wrongful conversion or detention of property.
An order of restitution or compensation may be enforced in the same manner as a judgement in a civil action, by the victim or by the prosecution on behalf of the victim or by the victim’s representative. Under the Judgements (Enforcement) Rules, a judgement for payment of money is enforced by one or more of the following means: 1. writ of fieri facias, 2. garnishee proceedings, 3. summons. Where the judgement is for delivery of goods, it may be enforced by means of a writ of delivery. The writ is addressed to the Sheriff and requires and orders him to seize the goods wheresoever they may be found within the jurisdiction and to deliver the same to the creditor.
Under the CJVR Bill, courts have unlimited jurisdiction to order compensation. Section 29 provides that notwithstanding the limit of the civil or criminal jurisdiction of the court, it has power to order adequate amount to be paid to a victim as compensation. This provision is commendable because the court will not be restricted as to amount to award as compensation because of monetary jurisdictional limits, which may become inadequate with time due to inflation, thereby necessitating statutory amendment.
When making an order for restitution or compensation for the loss or destruction of a victim’s property, the court may direct the offender to return the property to the owner. If the return of the property is impossible, the offender will pay an amount equal to the value of the property. Where the property to be returned is inadequate or insufficient, the offender will pay an amount equal to the value of the property calculated on the basis of what is fair and just.
The CJVR Bill has made provisions on paying amount equal to the value of the property, but is silent on who determines and how the value of the property is to be determined. There is need to make use of the services of professional valuers to ensure that a fair and just amount is arrived at, thereby avoiding a situation where the offender is made to pay excessively or the victim profiting unduly.
Part II of the CJVR Bill is on Ex-gratia award for victims of violent crimes. In order to fully implement the provisions of the CJVR Bill, and Part II in particular, the CJVR Bill provided for the establishment of a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and Tribunal.
The need for victims’ support scheme was born out in the research on the crime of burglary, by Michael Maguire of the Centre of Criminological Research at Oxford University Maguire found in his survey that while burgled men tend to be angered, many women are shocked and upset with some of them falling ill with mild depression or hysteria. Some other effects on victims he interviewed included severe shock, trembling, panic or uncontrolled weeping. This study was corroborated by Uweru. In his own study on armed robbery victims during the Anini era in1986-87, Uweru found that about three quarters of the victims studied criticized police handling of cases reported to them, complaining of their lack of interest in the plight of the victims. There had been several calls for the establishment of a compensation scheme for victims of violent crime in Nigeria.
In England, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme established in 1964, makes ex-gratia compensation, out of public purse to victims of crime of violence. The Scheme is administered under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
In the United States of America, the Crime Victims Fund is a major funding source for victim services throughout the Nation. Millions of dollars have been deposited into the Fund annually from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties, and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal U.S. courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. A wide range of services are supported. They include immediate response to the emotional and physical needs of crime victims, such as crisis intervention; accompaniment to hospitals for medical examinations; hotline counseling; emergency food, clothing, transportation, and shelter; emergency legal assistance such as filing restraining orders; safety measures such as boarding-up broken windows and replacing or repairing locks; and other emergency services that are intended to restore the victim’s sense of dignity and self-esteem. The following statutorily identified crime-related expenses can be reimbursed: medical costs, funeral and burial costs, mental health counseling, lost wages or loss of support.
The functions of the proposed Criminal Injuries Compensation Board include among others, to:
The duty of the Tribunal is to make ex-gratia awards in accordance with the provisions of Part II of the Bill to victims of crime for death or injury arising from the commission of a crime within the territory of the state.
The Scheme is to be funded by:
The Tribunal will not entertain an award that is less than N 1, 000 or make an award in excess of N 10, 000. Pegging the maximum claimable amount at N 10, 000 is not desirable bearing in mind the inflationary trend in the country. It is also a child’s play when compared with what obtains in other parts of the world.
It is suggested that compensation from this fund should not be limited to personal injury only. It should also cover damages to, or loss of property arising directly from the commission of crimes.
There is the problem of whether restitution or compensation is really enough to assuage the psychological trauma felt by a victim of crime who has suffered violation of his or her person by physical harm, threat to life, sexual assault, etc. The problem here centers on how to quantify in monetary terms the effects of the crime, which may include victimization.
In situations like this, victim-offender mediation becomes handy. Victim-offender mediation is the only initiative that addresses the needs of victims of sexual assault because it is truly an area of criminal law where retribution fails to heal victims. Victim-offender mediation can bring about emotional restoration and closure that is of the utmost concern in sex based crimes.
The major argument against the extension of victim-offender mediation to sex based crimes is deep-rooted in the concern for the victim and the likelihood of re-victimization. Nevertheless, mediations should take place only if the victim wanted to participate. Also, the mediation does not have to be face-to-face like in the Polish model, and instead shuttle mediations would meet the needs of both sides.
The CJVR Bill ventured into the realm of victim-offender reconciliation and mediation in a rather trivial manner. It provides that the court in carrying out its functions, has a duty to have due regard to the interest of the offender, the victim and the community and is enjoined to as far as practicable, promote the reconciliation of the victim and the offender.
Section 15 of the Bill also provided that the victim should be informed of the availability of the compounding procedure. Where the victim is desirous of compounding a crime, the court is to accord him a reasonable opportunity to do so and may, if requested by the victim, adjourn the proceedings. These are veritable basis for a victim-offender mediation/reconciliation program in Nigeria. Though these provisions may appear trivial, as they say nothing substantial about the reconciliation process or procedure, it confirms that a victim-offender mediation/reconciliation programme may not be out of place in our quest to bring lasting remedy to the crime victim in Nigeria.
What is required is to reinforce the legislation to include modalities for the compounding procedure or victim-offender mediation. This will include a list of compoundable offences, who is competent to compound an offence, when an offence may be compounded, how and where should discussions be conducted, how should the agreements be implemented etc. It will be proper for the legislation to clearly state that central to the practice of restorative justice is a conception of crime as harm to the community. It should also state the goals of restorative justice, which includes holding the offender accountable for the harm to the community, repairing that harm to the extent possible, and developing competency in the offender so that the offender makes better future choices. Accountability, repair of harm, and development of future competency should be paramount in the mediation processes. These will balance the concerns of the victim, offender, and community.
In a nut shell, victim-offender mediation compensates the victim for the loss suffered as a result of the crime by making the offender take personal responsibility for making good his loss. It gives the victim an opportunity to tell the offender how the crime affected him or her. The offender has the opportunity to apologize, explain his or her behaviour and make some reparation or pay compensation.
The Preamble to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters states that this approach provides an opportunity for victims to obtain reparation, feel safer and seek closure; allows offenders to gain insight into the causes and effects of their behaviour and to take responsibility in a meaningful way; and enables communities to understand the underlying causes of crime, to promote community well-being and to prevent crime.
There are numerous psychological benefits for victims who have a chance to confront their offender that do not exist in a criminal trial. Revenge does not restore the losses of victims, answer questions, relieve fears, provide closure, or help to make sense of a tragedy. The belief that severe punishment imposed on an offender will bring about some kind of peace of mind for the victim is unfounded. Research has proved that people are reluctant to deal with cases through the retributive system of our criminal justice, which might lead to bitterness and strained relationship.
Ability to forgive someone who has caused harm provides a sense of healing to the victims of crimes. One way to meet these needs is confrontation with the offender, and this is the type of justice which victim-offender mediation can facilitate. It has been acknowledged that receiving true forgiveness for a criminal act which is an aspect of victim-offender mediation, often provides some offenders with sort of a “clean slate,” deterring them from repeating criminal conduct.
Offenders also have some psychological benefit to derive from the mediation. They have the opportunity to truly face the situation, and make it right; take responsibility of their action in a unique way, and this in turn purges them of the guilt and label associated with their crime.
The mediation process gives the parties direct control over the conclusion of their squabble. Often in criminal processes there are huge concerns at stake: incarceration for defendants and the vindication of rights for victims. Leaving the decision power in the hands of a distant third party judge creates a lot of apprehension in the parties. Mediation relieves some of this tension, giving parties a sense of power in the process. Being given the ability to navigate a stressful criminal process empowers both sides.
Compensation, restitution and restoration remains a better preference to all other disposition methods such as imprisonment, corporal punishment, capital punishment, fine, probation, etc as far as providing succor or recompense to the victim of crime for his injuries, loss or damage is concerned.
Nigeria as a modern State should have a clear cut criminal policy, which covers the whole ambit of criminal laws; treatment of offenders; punishment of offenders; rehabilitation of offenders; remedies for victims of crimes; reconciliation etc.
This Paper has endeavoured to consider the legal provisions in our statutes that deal on victims remedies. It is the opinion of this paper that the existing provisions are not adequate. The new Criminal Justice Victim’s Remedies (CJVR) Bill, 2006 has tried to remedy the situation for crime victims, but the provisions of the Bill still leaves more to be desired. For this reason, restorative justice through victim-offender mediation is proposed, to help victims of crime come to terms with their ordeals and to engender full reconciliation.
It is suggested that Nigeria should adopt the UN victim-offender model and give it adequate legislative backing. Our law makers should consider the proposals in this piece before going ahead to pass the CJVR Bill, 2006 pending before them, into law. This will not just be in accord with recent developments in the international arena, but also in conformity with traditional African principles, which are based on reparation and places less emphasis on the retributive aspect of crime, while making the victim of crime central in the judicial system.
By Ani Comfort Chinyere (Mrs.) Research Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos.
Cap. C 38 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004. Section 17 mentions death, imprisonment, whipping, fine and forfeiture as punishments which may be inflicted under the Code.
 Cap. 89 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963. The punishments are identical to the ones contained in the Criminal Code.
 See the Report on the Review of Administration of Criminal Justice in Ogun State, 1981, para 18.104.22.168.2.1. Professor Femi Odekunle further confirms in his research, that victims of crime in Nigeria prefer restitution and compensation to the sentencing of their victimizers to imprisonment or fine. See Odekunle F., in “Victims of Property Crime in Nigeria: A Preliminary Investigation in Zaria” in Victimology: An International Journal, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1979, in Odekunle F., “Restitution, Compensation and Victims Remedies: Background and Justifications” in Adetiba S. (ed.), Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Justice, 1990), p. 157.
 Restorative justice had received a favorable reception in a number of countries, including Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. See Smith M. A., “Restorative Justice is a Human Right. A Transformative Discourse within UN Paradigms” Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Summary of Paper Prepared and Presented at Ancillary Restorative Justice Session, Bangkok, Thailand, 18-25 April 2005, at www.pficjr.org/programs/un/11thcongress/other/humanright. Last visited on 15/04/2008
 Marshall T, “Seeking the Whole Justice Repairing the Damage: Restorative Justice in Action. Paper presented at the ISTD Conference, March 1997, in Peters D., Alternative Dispute Resolution in Nigeria, (Lagos: Dee-Sage Nigeria Ltd., 2004), p. 95.
 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a group of flexible approaches to resolving disputes more quickly and at a lower cost than going to court. See Peters D., ibid.
 Madigan, “Mediation in the Criminal System: an Improved Model for Justice”. Final Paper, Spring 2005.
at www.restorativejustice.org. Last visited on 10/04/2008.
 Umbreit M. S., “Restorative Justice through Victim Offender Mediation: A Multi-Site Assessment”, Western Criminology Review 1(1) (1998) at http:// wcr.sonoma.edu/v1n1/umbreit.html. Last visited on 11/04/2008. There are over 1,300 victim-offender programs in 18 countries all over the world.
 See Peters D., op. cit. note 5, p. 202.
 Cap.C 41 Laws o f the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.
Cap. 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.
 See the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. U.N. Department of Public Information DP 1/ 895 – August 1986. General Assembly Resolution 40/34 of 29 November 1985.
 Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 6th ed.( Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 227.
 Section 6 of the South African Service Charter for Victims of Crime provides that “Compensation” refers to an amount of money that a criminal court awards the victim who has suffered loss or damage to property, including money, as a result of a criminal act or omission by the person convicted of committing the crime. Available at www.npa.gov.za/UploadedFiles/Victims charter. Last visited on 15/4/2008.
 The New Websters Dictionary, (Lexicon Publications Inc. 1993).
 See section 270(1) of Cap. C. 41 L FN, 2004
 Section 357 (1) of Cap. 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.
 Babafemi F. O., “Restitution and Compensation of Criminal Justice” in Adeyemi, A. A. (Ed.), The Nigerian Criminal Process, (University of Lagos Press, 1977), p. 251.
 Nasir M., “Criminal Justice: Restitution, Compensation and Victims Remedies”, Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, op. cit. note 3, p. 16.
 Agbede O., Modalities for the Enforcement of Financial Compensation for the Victims of Crimes” in Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, ibid, p. 23.
 Agbede O., ibid.
 Milner A., “Future of Sentencing in Nigeria” International Annals of Criminology, Special Number, “Non Institutional Treatment of Offenders “Proceedings of the XXth International Course in Criminology, 1971, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 248. Elias had also noted in relation to our traditional system, that the “payment of compensation or blood money by the offender to the offended was customary in many cases, even in unlawful killing of a human being”. See Adeyemi A. A., “The Place of Customary Law in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria”, in Osinbajo, Y. (ed.) Towards a Restatement of Nigerian Customary Law, (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Justice, 1989), p. 220.
 Adeyemi A. A., “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria” in Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, op. cit. note 3, p. 293.
 Schafer, S. The Victim and his Criminal. A Study in Functional Responsibility, 1968, in Uweru B., “Case for Victims of Crime Support Scheme’, in Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, ibid, p. 140.
 Adeyemi A. A., “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria”, ibid., p. 293.
 Bello M., Address Delivered by the Honourable the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Justice Mohammed Bello, C.O.N , in Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, ibid, p. 10.
 Separovic, P. Z. “ The Victim and Law Enforcement” W.S.V.N, No 2, 1982, p. 105, in Odekunle F. “Restitution, Compensation and Victims Remedies: Background and Justifications” op. cit. note 3, p. 153
 Soetan O. A., “Problems of Victims in the Administration of Justice: The Legislative Viewpoint”, in Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, ibid, p. 82.
 Bello M., op. cit. note 29, p. 11.
. Odekunle F., “Restitution, Compensation and Victims Remedies: Background and Justifications” ibid, p. 153.
 Adeyemi A. A., “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria” op. cit. note 26, p. 304
 Cap. 89 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.
 Cap. 30 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.
 Cap.C 41 Laws o f the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004
 Cap. P. 19 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004. See also the Fatal Accidents Law, the Collective Punishments Law, Cap. 24 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963; the Peace Preservation. Law Cap. 88 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963; the Riot Damage Law, Cap. 177 Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963 all of which also makes minimal provisions for compensation of victims.
 Nasir M., op. cit., note 21, p. 19.
 See A. A. Adeyemi, “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria”, op. cit. note 26, p. 305.
 Sections 435 (1) &(2), ibid.
 Section 269 CPA
 Section 270 (2) (a) ibid.
 Section 270 (2) (b), ibid.
 This section provides that money taken out of the offenders possession on his arrest, be paid to the innocent purchaser.
 Synergies and Responses: Strategic Alliances in Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. The Nigerian Country Paper for the 11th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Bangkok, Thailand, 18-25 April 2005, Prepared by Prof. A. A. Adeyemi p. 45.
 Bello M., op. cit. note, 29 p. 11
 Agbede O., Modalities for the Enforcement of Financial Compensation for the Victims of Crimes”, op. cit note 22, p. 24.
 Adeyemi A. A., “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria” op. cit, note 26, p. 297.
 Agbede O.,ibid.
 Synergies and Responses, op. cit note 46.
 See the Ogun State Commission’s Report, op. cit. note 3, para 22.214.171.124.
 Ibid, para. 126.96.36.199.
 See the General Assembly Resolution 40/34, 1986.
 Paragraph 10 provides that in cases of substantial harm to the environment, restitution, if ordered, should include, as far as possible, restoration of the environment, reconstruction of the infrastructure, replacement of community facilities and reimbursement of the expenses of relocation, whenever such harm results in the dislocation of a community.
 Section 12, ibid
 The Resolution was adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council on July 24, 2002. See www.pficjr.org/programs/un Last visited on 11/4/2008
 Smith M. A., “Restorative Justice is a Human Right. A Transformative Discourse within UN Paradigms”, op. cit. note 4.
 Smith M. A., ibid.
 See Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, op. cit, note 4. Many of the industrialized countries of North America, Australia/New-Zealand, and Western and Eastern Europe have actualized this call in various degrees and modalities. See Odekunle, op. cit. note 3, p. 156.
 The 15 man Group was inaugurated on June 10, 2004.
 Section 366, ACJ Bill.
 The Commission, which was chaired by Hon. Justice Akintola Ejiwunmi (rtd.) was inaugurated by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on March 16, 2006.
 Terms of reference number 5.
 Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Victim’s Remedies) Act 2006
 See foot notes 10 and 11
 Section 4
 Section 8 (1), ibid.
 Section 8 (2), ibid..
 Section 11,ibid.
 Section 14 , ibid.
 Section 15, ibid. The object of the compounding procedure is to entrench in our criminal justice system the necessary machinery which will enable a victim decide to settle his dispute with the offender without necessarily having to go through the judicial process to obtain his remedy. See Adeyemi A. A., “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria” op. cit, note 26, p. 309.
 Section 16, ibid.
 Section 17, ibid.
 Section 18, ibid.
 Section 19, ibid.
 Section 21, ibid.
 Section 23, ibid.
 Section 33, ibid.
 Section 34, ibid.
 Section 35, ibid
 Section 36, ibid.
 Section 32, ibid.
 Section 26, ibid.
 Adeyemi A. A., “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria” op. cit. note 26, p.297.
 Section 31, ibid. See Galadima V. Tonga (1971) NNLR\ 84. See also section 367 of the Penal Code.
 See Nwadialo F., Civil Procedure in Nigeria, (Lagos: MIJ Publishers Ltd., 1990), p. 782.
 The essence of this writ popularly known as the writ of fifa is that the amount ordered to be paid is realized by the seizure and sale of the judgement debtor’s properties and chattels. See Nwadialo F., ibid.
 In Garnishee proceedings, a judgement creditor may attach or garnishee debts, which another person owes to the judgement debtor in satisfaction of the judgement debt. See Nwadialo F., ibid, p. 804.
 By judgement summons, a judgement debtor who fails to pay the debt may be committed to prison for his default if the court is satisfied of his ability to pay. See Nwadialo F., ibid, p. 810.
 Nwadialo F, ibid, p. 822.
 Section 28, ibid.
 Se sections 38 and 45, ibid.
 Marguire M., (1982) Burglary in a Dwelling: The Offence, the Offender and the Victim, in Uweru B., “Case for Victims of Crime Support Scheme’, op. cit. note 27, pp. 140-141.
 Maguire M, ibid.
 See Uweru B. C., Unpublished Survey on Armed Robbery Victims in Benin City, (1987), in Uweru B., “Case for Victims of Crime Support Scheme’, op. cit. note 27, p. 141. Findings and studies on the matter in Canada and Europe (i.e. The Netherlands, Britain, France and Germany) show that victims’ image of police and courts improved with the provision and actualization of compensation. See Vennard J., “Compensation by the Offender: The Victim’s Perspective”, Victimology, No. ½, 1978, in Odekunle F., “Restitution, Compensation and Victims Remedies, op. cit., note 3, p. 155.
 See Asuni T., Psychological Problems of Victims: Is Restitution Possible? in Adetiba S. (ed.), Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Justice, 1990) p. 151; Nasir M, “Criminal Justice: Restitution, Compensation and Victims Remedies”, op. cit. note 21, p. 21.
 See the call by Justice A. L. Balogun for an adoption of such a Scheme in all the states of Nigeria, in Balogun A. L., Problems of Victims in the Administration of Justice: the Judicial Viewpoint, in Adetiba S. (ed.), Compensation and Remedies for Victims of Crime, (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Justice, 1990), p. 62.
 The Board is charged with the duty of awarding compensation to those who sustain injury directly attributable to a crime of violence or to assisting in apprehending an offender or preventing an offence.
 The Fund was established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA),
 www.doj.state.or.us/crimev/comp. Last visited on 14/04/2008.
 Other compensable expenses may include the replacement or repair of eyeglasses or other corrective lenses, dental services and devices, prosthetic devices, and crime scene cleanup. However, property damage and loss are not covered.
 See section 44 of the Criminal Justice Victims Bill, 2006, op. cit. note 66.
 See sections 4-36 , ibid
 See section 70, ibid.
 In assessing the amount of award payable, the Tribunal is to have regard to the nature and extent of the injury sustained by the victim; the actual medical expenses incurred by the victim; in case of the death of the victim, the pecuniary loss to the dependants; the conduct of the victim before and after the commission of the crime; and if the victim is dead, the conduct of the applicant before and after the commission of the crime. See section 58 (a)-(e), ibid.
 Maximum awards in the USA may be up to $25, 000. It may be higher or lower in some States. In the State of Michigan, the maximum total dollars is $15,000.00. Most states in Australia can pay a maximum combined award of between $AUS15, 000 and $AUS60, 000. See www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/intdir/australia last visited on 15/04/2008
 See Agbede O., op. cit, note 22, p. 35.
 See Asuni T., ibid, p. 146. See also note 99.
 Victim-offender mediation began in Kitchener, Ontario where two boys destroyed private property in a drunken rampage. Since the boys were first offenders, their probation officer convinced the instead of punishment that would result in a criminal record, it would be better for the boys to face their victims and make restitution. The court allowed them to go to the homes of their victims, confess to the crimes, and work out a restitution agreement. Within three months, the boys had completed their agreements and paid back all the losses. This led to the creation of the first North American victim-offender mediation/reconciliation program. See Price M., Victim-Offender Mediation: The State of Art, (discussing the beginning of victim-offender mediation) VOMA Quarterly, at http://www.vorp.com/articles/art.html. Last visited on 10/04/2008. In the Ukraine, a new restorative justice program is in its third year. See http://www.sfcg.org/programmes/ukraine/ukraine_restorative.html. Last visited on 10/04/2008.
 Madigan, ibid.
 In Poland, a referral to mediation can be made by the court, prosecutor, or police officers. Then the mediator meets the victim and offender individually, followed by a required meeting of the victim and offender. This meeting must be face to face, and cannot be substituted for indirect or shuttle mediation. See also Elzbieta Czwartosz, “Qualifications of Mediators Between Victims and Offenders in Poland”, at http://www.restorativejustice.org/rj3/ Last visited on 10/04/2008.
 Section 24, ibid.
 For the object of compounding, see note 73.
 Section 15 (2), ibid
 See the draft Institutional Framework for Victim Remedy, drafted by Professor A. A., Adeyemi, in Adeyemi A. A., “Towards Victim Remedy in Criminal Justice Administration” op. cit. note 26, pp. 295-302. See also the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters.
 See Russel T, at www.restorativejustice.org. (Last visited on 18/4/2008), for a proposal on the procedure for the utilization of ADR in criminal matters, see Peters D., op. cit., note 5, pp. 220-223. See also the whole text of the United Nations Basic Principles on Restorative Justice.
 See Umbreit, op.cit. note 8.
Walker L., Conferencing: A New Approach for Juvenile Justice in Honolulu in Madigan, “Mediation in the Criminal System: an Improved Model for Justice” op. cit. note 7
at www.restorativejustice.org Last visited on 10/04/2008.
 Oloruntimehin O. O., “The Difference Between Real and Apparent Criminality” in Adeyemi A. A., (ed.), The Nigerian Criminal Process, op. cit., note 20, p. 6.
 Umbreit, op. cit. note 8.
 Madigan, op. cit. note 7
 Kimberlee K. Kovach, Mediation: Principles and Practice, 3rd ed. 75-76 (1994), in Madigan, ibid.
 Towards this end, Dele Peters had suggested that the Lagos Multi Door Court House, the Citizens Mediation Center and the Abuja Multi Door Court House all of which presently handle only civil matters, could be examined and adapted for use in mediating in criminal matters. See Peters D., op. cit. note 5, p. 220.