Restorative Justice all the way from Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
Today we spotlight the case of Taju (pseudonym) a one time commercial driver, who after losing the vehicle which fetched his daily income turned into a garage boy which made him involved in drinking and gambling.
On a particular day after drinking, he went to a popular Betting Shop in his neighborhood, where he usually bets on games. He lost a lot of money and eventually had altercations with the owner of the shop. Out of anger, he maliciously damaged the betting spot which was worth N200,000. The owner of the bet shop demanded he fix the damages which he could not afford.
Taju was arrested, arraigned in the magistrate court and charged for malicious damage which he pleaded not guilty to. He was later granted bail by the court but he could not fulfil the bail conditions, hence he was remanded at the Agodi Correctional Centre, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The restorative justice officer at the correctional centre understood the role RJ could play to make Taju a better person so he took steps to inform Taju about restorative justice and planned the first meeting with him where he made Taju understand the impact of his actions on the victim. After this meeting, Taju who understood the impact of his actions, admitted his guilt and became eager to apologise and restitute.
This Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) process was conducted inside the Agodi Correctional Centre where the parties met and through dialogue repaired the harm committed by Taju after he profusely apologised to the victim.
On the next adjourned date, the Magistrate was informed of the RJ process between the parties which he applauded. Taju was thereafter discharged after the Magistrate admonished him to be of good behaviour.
The relationship between the parties (Taju and the Victim) is now restored to the extent that it was the Victim who facilitated Taju’s new job as a Ticketing Officer of Oyo State Park Managers System at one of the motor parks.
We highly commend the works of the RJ Officer, ASC Nurudeen, who has facilitated numerous restorative processes in Agodi correctional centre. Restorative Justice has given men like Taju a second chance to redeem themselves, become law abiding citizens and better individuals in their communities. We implore all law enforcement agents (police officers, correctional officers etc) to be restorative in their actions and give room for a more restorative approach when resolving issues around crime and broken relationships.