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REPLACE evolved in the context of a project to model interventions for managing Pre-Trial Detention (PTD project) and develop a Police Duty-Solicitor Scheme (PDSS) in Nigeria. This project began in 2004 and is a pioneer civil society effort to respond to the seemingly intractable problem of ‘awaiting trial persons’ in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.

The project identified key points along the chain of criminal investigation and prosecution which sustain the large numbers of pre-trial detainees with the attendant long periods of pre-trial detention. Principal project partners were the Nigeria Police Force, the Legal Aid Council and the Open Society Justice Initiative. Project activities commenced in 2004, in four pilot states of Imo, Kaduna, Ondo and Sokoto. Activities were extended to Plateau and Rivers in March 2006. Positive initial results from the project showing significant reductions in pre-trial detention and duration in the pilot States encouraged its institutionalisation and persuaded the founding partners of the PTD project to support the establishment of REPLACE as a not-for-profit to pursue these project objectives on a more sustainable basis.

The Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre was registered as a Trust in December 2006. Activities of the organization have consisted of advocacy and initiation of strategies for effective criminal justice administration in Nigeria. These activities have been managed by REPLACE in partnership with the Legal Aid Council.

The goodwill and co-operation of the major criminal justice agencies has been fundamental in the progress and achievements of all project activities alluded to in the foregoing paragraphs. However, frequent changes of leadership and institutional focus in the Police, the Legal Aid Council , State prosecution departments, executives and parliamentarians in recent years have slowed the pace of project activities and necessitated a reappraisal of project implementation strategies. To address the challenge of these changes of leadership and institutional focus, REPLACE undertakes official visits to newly appointed heads of the Legal Aid Council, State Attorneys General, the Inspector General of Police and other agency heads. Previous work relationships and networks with State officers have been kept up through regular phone calls, visits and letters.

As a Trust, REPLACE’s primary source of funding is from Grant-making organisations. REPLACE engages in fundraising activities all year round with specific projects and proposals designed to access funds which may be available for the development of criminal justice and access to justice in Nigeria. REPLACE has also developed networks and collaborative partnerships with other civil society organisations with complementary activities, while opportunities to partner with private sector Corporations is currently being explored. 


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