By Harmless Anaba, Henry Ojelu & Onozure Dania
From all indications, 2019 is predicted to be one of the difficult years for the nation’s judiciary, notably due to the overall elections, which can begin on February 16, with the presidential ballot. Up to now, this arm of presidency had discharged itself creditably properly, even throughout election years. However with extra consideration by Nigerians on the judiciary, extra so, its all essential position because the final hope of the widespread man when all different arms of presidency and side of the society appears to fail the individuals, the judiciary is more and more being referred to as upon to bail the cat. The large query then turns into, will this all necessary arm of presidency stay as much as expectations?
On this version of Regulation and Human Rights, legal professionals process the judiciary of what they anticipate of it this 2019. Those that spoke embrace Chief Solo Akuma, SAN, Mr Arthur Obi-Okafor, SAN, Professor Ernest Ojukwu, SAN, Lawal Pedro, SAN, John Olusegun Odubela, SAN, and Olusina Sofola , SAN. Others are Government Director, Entry to Justice, Joseph Otteh, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Senior lecturer, Lagos State College, Gbenja Ojo, former Chairman, NBA, Ikeja, Adesina Ogunlana, Israel Mbaebie, Terry Adeniji and Debo Adeleke.
Extra judges ought to be appointed
Akuma, SAN, stated: “My expectation for the judiciary in 2019 is that there’s want for the judiciary to nominate extra judges for fast dispensation of justice. The work load on judges is a lot that it takes so lengthy to dispense instances earlier than them. If extra judges are appointed, it is going to be lots simpler to dispense instances, in order that instances gained’t have to remain very lengthy in courtroom earlier than they’re allotted.
“The presidential and Nationwide Meeting elections are coming and there can be some judges that may deal with election tribunal and once they do, a number of the different typical instances of their courts shall be placed on maintain. However when there are different judges, whereas the elections tribunal is occurring, these instances will even be heard.
Judiciary must reside as much as religion bestowed on it
Obi-Okafor, SAN, stated “The yr 2019 is a historic yr for us in Nigeria. The occasions inside the yr will decide the survival of Nigeria as a rustic and the judiciary will play a elementary position within the sustenance of our unity.
Our nation is passing via difficult occasions and the NBA because the foremost civil society group within the nation which ordinarily would have performed the position of a watchdog for the residents and voice of the helpless Nigerians, particularly within the upcoming elections, is at present a shadow of its previous self.
The widespread man is left with the judiciary which is his solely bastion of hope. The judiciary must reside as much as these expectations and make sure that the religion bestowed on it as an all-important establishment is just not let down. I consider we’ll see numerous judicial activism on the bench which can result in the dishing out of substantive justice and in addition safeguard our democracy.
The judiciary must gird its loins as it can face loads of challenges in a deliberate try and undermine its constitutional powers. The judiciary must show braveness, stay forthright and shouldn’t be deterred from doing justice to all and always, although the heaven falls.
Preserving independence of the judiciary must be a precedence
Prof Ojukwu, SAN, stated: “The Nigerian Judiciary has carried out properly in contrast with the opposite arms of presidency in Nigeria however there’s nonetheless a lot to be carried out. Preserving the independence of the judiciary must be a precedence for the judiciary in addition to the opposite arms of presidency, the Bar and all residents.
It might be very troublesome for some other individual to battle for the independence of the judiciary if the judiciary themselves do not get on the job truthfully, brazenly, transparently and successfully.
“The main target of the judiciary must be on their fiscal autonomy and administrative autonomy and the size of institutional and private independence. For the reliable safety of the judiciary, the judiciary ought to drive its self-cleansing by resetting their governance mechanism and appointment of judges in any respect ranges to be open, clear, and accountable to the general public. The judiciary must launch to the general public their monetary tips they usually have to use the rules. The judiciary has to use the Freedom of Info Act on itself.
“There have been questions on the method and precise appointment of judges. The judiciary and its appointing organs and leaders must present higher concern within the enthronement of the perfect and trustworthy individuals as judges. The place a few of the chief judges, judicial service commissions and NJC typically refuse to use its personal guidelines within the appointment of judges leaves a lot to be desired in our aspirations for an unbiased judiciary.
“From my expertise, our judges are overworked in contrast with judges of different nations. Whereas the judiciary must proactively take up this matter and help all reputable agitations together with actions for constitutionally decreasing their work load, the judiciary must additionally take critical actions to examine their very own judges and decrease courtroom judges who showcase the judiciary within the mistaken mild on justice delays, and corruption points.
“A part of this may be for the judiciary to additionally look into the efficiency analysis of judges. The current analysis course of is just ineffective. It is just based mostly on numbers, numbers of instances concluded that has even inspired some judges to write down any type of poor judgment within the guise of satisfying the efficiency standards. A efficiency analysis of judges must be broad and deep based mostly on a set of data on the decide’s efficiency, together with survey knowledge, evaluate of case administration expertise and written opinions, courtroom remark, and knowledge gained from interviews with the decide. The analysis committee ought to be unbiased, and will consist each of legal professionals and non-lawyers. The course of must be clear each to the decide being evaluated and to the general public and the analysis outcomes, and knowledge on the analysis course of itself, must be extensively disseminated to the general public.
Ojukwu additional famous that there are various different actions of the judiciary which have contributed to delayed courtroom actions. In line with him, “a few of them are: Judges’ rampant participation in unplanned conferences and workshops all year long. Why ought to at the least 75 per cent of all conferences, coaching and workshop schedules not be recognized by each decide one yr prematurely in order that these judges will schedule their courtroom days with out the interference of those trainings and conferences which have now grow to be customary distractions on the courtroom processes? Why ought to courts, particularly state courts, conduct their new authorized years outdoors the primary day of the brand new authorized yr? Why ought to these judiciaries not copy the requirements of the Supreme Courtroom and Federal Excessive Courtroom in making certain that the brand new authorized yr ceremony is carried out on the primary day of the authorized yr in order that it doesn’t disrupt courtroom schedules later within the yr? And by the best way, these state courts conduct these ceremonies in very lavish, costly and ‘un-judiciary’ skilled method. They compromise their independence by involving the chief governments in pointless expenditures for what must be solemn ceremonies.
“In 2019, I anticipate the judiciary to assist us form the election course of and use judicial activism successfully to drive politicians to abide by all guidelines of free and truthful election. I anticipate the judiciary to assist us form obedience to rule of regulation and elementary rights as a tradition of the nation. I anticipate the judiciary to take stronger measures to examine corruption amongst its members together with the multi-faceted corruption happening within the registry part of the judiciary. I anticipate the judiciary to be bolder and stronger and refuse to be cowed by the opposite arms of presidency, and politicians. I additionally anticipate Nigerians to struggle for and help an absolute obedience by all of each order or judgment of our courts. I additionally anticipate Nigerians to struggle for and help excellent circumstances of service for our judges and judicial personnel to have the ability to meet our expectations.
Quick-track for election tribunal issues
Pedro, SAN, stated: “My expectation from the judiciary this yr, particularly within the first and second quarter is readiness to deal with the fallout of the election that’s going to happen. I’m very optimistic that they’re already ready for it and won’t disappoint Nigerians. What I anticipate that they need to do differently this yr is to fast-track and expedite all election petitions in order that the time already offered for the willpower of election petitions is adhered to. I anticipate members of the tribunal to additionally current themselves as impartial umpires.
“A few of the complaints we’re listening to now, is that in view of the time laid down for election petition and appeals, the judiciary is able to frustrate any candidate who’s aggrieved and dissatisfied with the result of the election. If the regulation supplies that the election petition must be concluded inside 180 days and the presiding judges determine to waste time, and the 180 elapses, then clearly, they may hinge their choice on lack of jurisdiction because the 180 days have expired. A decide presiding over an election tribunal who’s out to frustrate a candidate, might merely not permit the matter to run easily. By the point judgment is prepared, he might merely say he has run out of time. So the place is the treatment for somebody who’s in search of for justice? Individuals have been clamouring that provision of the electoral act ought to be reviewed and I strongly help it.
“I’m conscious that instances earlier than judges who’re engaged in election tribunal endure short-term setback throughout this era however sadly, that’s what the system permits for now. This is the reason many people are proud of the timeline that has been given. For a decide to now go for what we confer with as nationwide task, that nationwide task shouldn’t take the entire yr. The 180 days which were put aside for the tribunal just isn’t misplaced. For now, there’s nothing anybody can do besides we need to be appointing retired judges as tribunal members.“
New technique for dispensation of justice
John Odubela, SAN, stated: “I feel an important factor is for our judges to say extra independence within the discharge of their constitutional duties. I additionally anticipate the courts to provide you with extra methods for fast dispensation of instances in courtroom. We now have continued to have collection of delays in courts which aren’t good for our financial and social progress as a nation.
“This is an election year, definitely some judges and justices will serve in various tribunals which will affect their sittings in their regular courts so I expect judiciary to plan ahead and put necessary machinery in motion at least to reduce the delays that the litigants in the regular courts will suffer.”
Scarcity of fund must be addressed
Olusina Sofola, SAN, stated: “Clearly with the elections this yr, we expect that will probably be a busy interval for the judiciary as a result of rather a lot goes to be anticipated from them particularly viz a- viz election petitions, pre-election points. However like I’ve all the time stated, personally, I’ve confidence in our judiciary, I consider that offered the federal government makes the satisfactory and correct association for them, I’ve little question that the judiciary will carry out its position credibly. They’ve been doing that and I’ve no hesitation in saying that I’m positive that they may do that once more this yr.
“I feel the issue with the judiciary has all the time been the difficulty of scarcity of funds. For them to have the ability to do their job correctly, I’ve seen the best way the judiciary practises everywhere in the world in developed nations and also you see the amenities which are obtainable to them. The issue we now have in Nigeria is that we nonetheless have conditions the place magistrates and judges are nonetheless writing in lengthy palms. That clearly makes the work very troublesome for them, however contemplating the brief comings, I consider that they’ll stay as much as their duty. What has been occurring once more just lately is the truth that they now have provisions for arbitration and the judiciary once more has been dwelling as much as its duty within the sense that they’re now permitting and implementing arbitral awards as an alternative of interfering unnecessarily with awards from arbitration. So what that may clearly do is to complement the judiciary within the sense that not everyone now must go to courtroom once they have disputes. Some disputes might be resolved by arbitration which may clearly be executed expeditiously. However then the one drawback is that it’s fairly costly, however all in all, I feel the arbitration and the provisions of the brand new guidelines will solely assist the judiciary.
“I personally believe that the amendment in the constitution that allows matter of law alone to go to the Supreme Court is a step in the right direction, as it is, the Supreme Court in Nigeria is burdened by too many matters that really shouldn’t get to the Supreme court, only matters that are of immense importance should get to the Supreme Court so that they can deal with them properly. But as it is, we have situations where a dispute of N50,000, sometimes will get to the Supreme Court which shouldn’t be. It is not proper, so all in all, I have high hopes for the judiciary, I hope the government will encourage them to do their work properly. Once that is done, then I have no doubt in my mind that the judiciary can be a source of pride to the nation and can indeed be the last resort of the common man.”
Judiciary must embrace trendy know-how
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, stated: “This yr, all eyes are on the judiciary, particularly as we go into the overall elections to decide on our leaders. There might be motley of pre-election instances and in addition quite a lot of election petitions, post-election. In all these instances, it’s the judiciary that may decide the destiny and future of Nigeria, in yr 2019 and I consider, from its previous laudable data, the judiciary is properly outfitted and ready for this nice process.
It’s towards the above background that all of us anticipate that 2019 ought to be a yr of independence for the judiciary, when the courts will take a stand to defend democracy, rule of regulation and human rights, with out favour, ailing will or affection, regardless of the standing of the litigants and their legal professionals.
As we strategy the 2019 elections, the judiciary ought to stand tall to take its satisfaction of place within the adjudication of disputes in a good and unbiased method.
The judiciary ought to let its eyes of measurement stay closed to political and different subterranean and extraneous influences of all types and from all quarters. That is the mandate bestowed upon it underneath part 6 of the Structure, as the one department of presidency so saddled with such monumental and unique duty of dispute adjudication and determination.
Our nation and certainly, the entire world, is wanting as much as the judiciary to set the tempo for moral requirements within the conduct of free, truthful and credible elections and to abolish all types of impunity and illegalities in that course of.
The judiciary ought to benefit from the newly enacted Act that has given it some measure of independence to regulate its personal funds, and wean itself from the clutches and influences of the chief arm of presidency.
Our courts should embrace trendy know-how within the administration and dispensation of justice. There must be no courtroom in Nigeria, in 2019, the place proceedings are taken in lengthy hand, the place it is going to take days and months to get judgments of courts or its proceedings. There’s an pressing have to comply with the great instance already set by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, to digitize our courtroom techniques.
We hope to have much less of courtroom declared governors and legislators, when the courts will give the political events the correct to find out who ought to be their candidates in any election.
We pray for a judiciary in 2019, the place judges and judicial officers are higher laid and brought care of, and in that sensible remove all types of corrupt practices.
Above all, I commend the judiciary for 2018, for standing to uphold the rule of regulation in all instances.
The laudable initiatives spearheaded by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, to realize on-line submitting of instances is commendable and must be replicated in all different courts throughout the nation. With help of Nigerians, all of us anticipate a vibrant, fearless and unbiased judiciary, in 2019.”
Judiciary wants new reform blueprint
Joseph Otteh, stated “It’s somewhat troublesome to set expectations for our Judiciary in any particular yr as a result of the Judiciary, save for few exceptions, has been carrying over unmet expectations yr after yr. I do not assume 2019 is any totally different from the earlier yr, or the yr earlier than that. Within the absence of a lot progress over the earlier years, it might appear redundant to construct any hopes for, or on 2019. In different phrases, with marginal exception, we expect quite a bit nonetheless stays unchanged.
“On the constructive aspect, we see that the Nationwide Judicial Council has sped up efforts to deal with judicial corruption, and there’s extra traction on that entrance. That is good, however the general strategic framework for preventing judicial corruption continues to be a weak one. Furthermore, on the state degree, there’s little or no proof that a lot has modified.
“However many, many gaps nonetheless stay. Even within the area of preventing corruption, there must be a concerted, holistic technique for repairing the injury finished to the justice system by judicial corruption. Additionally, questions of judicial independence are nonetheless lurking within the background and our judiciary shouldn’t be standing up nicely on this half too. It isn’t difficult the blatant excesses of government energy in any spirited approach, and even defending its personal area and defending the rule of regulation. For a lot of Nigerians like El Zakzaky – speak of the rule of regulation will seem just a little idle and euphemistic, if not sterile, and its power shall be not more than like a spent bullet.
“If Nigerians lose hope within the energy of the rule of regulation to guard them, we can’t truthfully say we follow a constitutional authorities and must ask questions of our judiciary. Judicial independence can be strengthened if we have now judges of strong braveness, fortitude and scholarship. That’s why the judiciary must strengthen its recruitment decisions, and goal those that have keener visions of the judiciary’s position in safeguarding human freedom, and serving a nation’s social and financial improvement. Our courts are far too conservative in enjoying this position presently, notably on the appellate degree.
“Perhaps, we can say, to keep our faces to the sunshine, that the judiciary can still salvage our hopes in 2019. But to do so, it needs to go to the drawing board and with other stakeholders, sketch out an ambitious plan of reform, a kind of blueprint, a road map for making the justice system work efficiently and effectively for everyone. We miss such a rallying point and consensually developed agenda.”
Extra consideration for elementary human rights points
Gbenga Ojo, stated: “The world I feel that the judiciary has to look into is the world of enforcement of elementary human rights. Nigeria is regularly turning right into a police state and the courtroom seems to not be intervening within the matter in any respect. If there’s a household matter, when the police intervene and convey it to the courtroom and the courtroom with out even wanting on the cost correctly, will now impose virtually unreasonable bail time period and the suspect might be languishing in jail for Three-Four weeks earlier than the bail may be accredited.
After being launched from the prisons, the police won’t prosecute the case and the matter shall be struck out for need of diligent prosecution. In the meantime, any person has been in jail for Three-Four weeks and it’s turning into rampant. The situation for bail the truth is, is as if that individual is presumed responsible already. The perfect factor is for the courtroom to take a look at the cost, scrutinise the cost very properly earlier than imposing bail situation. A easy matter of two preventing, that’s meant for the Justice of the Peace courtroom, they’ll take it to the Federal Excessive Courtroom, the place they know that it is rather troublesome to acquire bail.
Judiciary ought to exert boldness in it selections
Israel Mbaebie, stated: “This yr, being an election yr, can be a really pivotal and telling one for the judiciary and certainly, all Nigerians. Because the final hope of the widespread man, there can be fairly excessive expectation from this arm of presidency. It might certainly be one other defining second in our democratic experiment.
Our judiciary has been daring earlier than, we anticipate them to be bolder this time round to stave the nation from sliding into anarchy and lawlessness. There can be no have to resort to self -help as soon as the populace is certain of justice from the judiciary, therefore, we will all look as much as the judiciary to correctly tackle all electoral grievances.
Consequently, the bench particularly our superior courts, can be anticipated to discharge their duties with out worry or favour. The entire nation reposes that belief and confidence on them.
It must be famous that any sudden and or inadvertent let off on the a part of the bench this time round might spell catastrophe. The bench ought to be daring sufficient to make robust and fearless pronouncements with out minding whose ox is gored. We can’t anticipate any much less from them this time round. The judiciary must converse up and reside as much as its constitutional duties.
For starters, I ought to consider that the judiciary has began on that daring courageous trajectory already in 2019 if the current judgment of a Federal Excessive Courtroom sitting at Port Harcourt can be something to go by. The courtroom had boldly held that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has no candidate for nearly all of the elective posts in Rivers State. With this precursor, one ought to consider that this can be a daring step in the proper course. The judiciary won’t fail Nigerians in 2019.
Judges must be sanctioned
Terry Badmus Adeniji, stated: “My take for the judiciary is that the administration of justice must be made to work quicker than it’s now. Presently, the bench is placing the blame on the legal professionals saying they’re those delaying issues. That is why all of the states at the moment are making new guidelines and placing penalties towards legal professionals. However no one is speaking about judges who won’t sit on time and even sit in any respect. They do this with no apologies to anyone. Some won’t sit for days and months, but, they acquire salaries.
“So for us to have an all- encompassing clean administration of justice this yr, the judges additionally have to be on their toes. The regulation shouldn’t be made towards legal professionals solely. Judges who fail to ship rulings and judgments on time also needs to be sanctioned. There must be no less than some sort of disciplinary measures towards them.
“Secondly, I think the Lagos State Judiciary should halt the new arbitrary rules which it is about to start implementing. It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. How can a lawyer be asked to pay over N100, 000 simply because he or she fails to make an appearance in court due to unforeseen circumstances? The Chief Judge should shelve that new rule and allow stakeholders make input as to the best way to make the system work better.”
Judges must resist undue affect from politicians
Ogunlana Adesina, stated: “My expectation is that the judiciary must acknowledge the truth that it’s going to have heavier load than final yr just because it’s an election yr. The politicians of their attribute method will resort to violence and strategy the courts. The courts and tribunals will definitely be manned by judges, so the easiest among the many judges must be put within the composition of the tribunal. They must be truthful to all and resist the temptation of being corrupted by politicians as they typically do. In all, I consider that if the judiciary stays steadfast, our democratic expertise this yr might be worthwhile.
ICPC, EFCC instances ought to have particular courtroom
Debo Adeleke, stated: “The judiciary has actually carried out properly, with the issues that have been put in place by the Chief Justice of Nigeria. There’s want for an additional Supreme Courtroom in Nigeria. There are instances within the Supreme Courtroom which shouldn’t get there. The Supreme Courtroom is being saddled with an excessive amount of work load. They’re human beings like us. There are instances within the Supreme Courtroom from 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 they usually haven’t been heard. There was a time that we had just one regulation faculty in Nigeria and it was in Lagos.However proper now, we now have regulation faculty in Abuja, Kano Enugu and they’re all doing properly as a result of it’s the similar factor that’s being carried out there.
“There must be particular courts the place felony instances must be prosecuted like you have got the ICPC and EFCC. Identical to elections are coming and there can be elections petition tribunal that may solely final for some month, there must be particular courts for politicians who steal cash. Final yr, this administration advised us that they have been going to revive the Nigerian Airways and some huge cash went into it and we have been promised that it should begin functioning by December and that it’ll journey to London and USA, and everyone was completely satisfied as a result of it’ll comparatively be low cost. Up until now, nothing has come out of it. This authorities stated they’re preventing corruption, nevertheless it’s surrounded with wolves, rouges, people who find themselves stealing the nation’s cash; they need to ask the Aviation minister what occurred to the marketing campaign he did in regards to the Nigeria Airways. They need to ask Amaechi and others.
“I was opportune to travel to a state where a very prominent person in the APC government built a house that when you see it, you will think this is not Nigeria, Where did he get that kind of money to build the house and also have a security outfit of his own? Meanwhile, the roads that lead to that place in the state are all bad.”
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