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General News of Tuesday, 16 November 2021


Buhari tasks judiciary on speedy justice delivery

President Muhammadu Buhari President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that delay in the dispensation of justice as well as the rising number of cases pending in various courts across the federation, have remained a subject of grave concern to his administration.

He, therefore, expressed the need for the judiciary to evolve strategies that would enhance the justice delivery system.

He spoke while declaring the 2021 All Nigeria Judges’ Conference of the superior courts open in Abuja, yesterday.

Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari stressed that Nigeria would not be able to attract foreign investors if its justice system is seen as “inefficient and ineffective.”

While calling on the judiciary to weed out bad eggs within its fold that could undermine its integrity both locally and internationally, President Buhari, said there was a need for courts to impose huge “deterrent costs” on lawyers that help litigants to unduly delay cases.

“As my lords are aware, delay in the dispensation of Justice, coupled with increase in the number of cases in our courts, have remained subject of grave concern. As someone said, our problem is not access to justice, it is exiting the justice system. And I know that the delays are not necessarily the fault of the judges. Lawyers are often also responsible.

“Should we not then, as has been suggested by some, evolve a court award system that recognises the court as the final and extensive public resort, and as such, delays and other dialectric tactics are visited with deterrent costs.

“We are part of the global marketplace for investment and legal services. The extent to which we can attract business to our country depends in part on investors’ perception of the quality of our justice delivery system. If we are seen as inefficient and ineffective, we would lose out to more efficient systems.

“The other point that I think must be made is that of judicial integrity. There is in my humble view, nothing as important as for judges to be trusted for honesty and integrity. Men and women who have powers over the lives and livelihood of others are not like the rest of us. We must place them on the highest scale of probity. “I will like to urge that your lordships must not allow a few to undermine the respect and trust both local and international that our judiciary has built up in over a century of its existence.

“I am not unaware of the number of challenges slowing the pace of transformation in our administration of justice system.

“More needs to be done to strike a sound balance between the high level of productivity in quality of judicial decisions and the careful consideration of cases.

“My administration, through the Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the National Judicial Council has been working towards the resolution of these challenges.”

Regardless, he commended the judiciary for adopting innovative approaches that ensured that wheels of justice moved unhindered, despite challenges that were posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that the Federal Government would continue to partner with the judiciary to ensure its independence.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, said the conference offers judges a chance to collectively strategize and tackle the problems of court inefficiencies, poor infrastructure and condition of service, decay of intellectual capacity and corruption.

He said the issue of funding has continued to pose a serious challenge to the judiciary, a situation he said could make it difficult for the institution to be impartial and objective.

He said: “Without appearing to contradict myself, I yield to the fact that it may be difficult for the judiciary to be impartial and objective in a democracy where it remains financially tied to the Executive. It is trite that the foundation of impartiality is independence.”

While commending President Buhari for granting financial autonomy to the judiciary, the CJN, said he was saddened by the fact that only a few states have implemented the agreement relating to funding of state judiciaries.

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