The judiciary’s worrisome burden


After reading Daily trust’s editorial of Monday 9th march 2015 with the above title, I understood better some of the issues that are bedeviling our judiciary and as an aspiring member of this noble profession,I believe our judicial system is dire need of reforms. We must do our best to sanitize and reform the system for the betterment of the country.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, recently expressed concern that the Supreme Court was burdened with a huge number of cases. He lamented that 5,000 appeals were pending before the apex court; some instituted in 2005.
Speaking at a forum organised by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), the CJN said over 800 cases were filed at the Supreme Court in 2014 and 10 appeals have already been filed this year.
Painting a worrisome picture of our criminal justice system, Justice Mohammed said that 38,000 cases were before federal courts alone. Obviously, the number in state high courts and other courts of records would be much higher.
“The current reality paints a sobering picture. The number of cases pending before courts has reached critical proportions and we must use all appropriate means to stop it from spiralling out of control,” the CJN said.
Some of the cases have been going on for decades, with the litigants nowhere near getting a closure anytime soon; some have died while awaiting resolution. For instance, the Supreme Court gave a ruling  on February 13, 2015, in a case instituted at a lower court in 1984 over a chieftaincy stool in Pankshin local government area of Plateau State, long after all the disputants had died.
The regrettable state of Nigeria’s justice system is a result of decades of neglect by successive administrations to grant financial autonomy to the third arm of government, in spite of the principle of separation of powers enshrined in our constitution.
There is no gainsaying the urgent need to reform the criminal justice system to enhance the rule of law, curb impunity and abuse of human rights. The archaic substantive and procedural criminal laws need to be reviewed and overhauled because as the dictum says, ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’
Justice Mohammed is in a position to fast-track the justice delivery system as his tenure will be defined by what he does in significantly improving the situation.
A starting point would be the setting up of new but effective and reliable Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) courts, like India did when it was faced with an even direr situation between 2001 and 2012, leading to the resolution of over two million cases. Several European countries have embraced the ADR option and freed the judiciaries from the heavy burden.
Mohammed also has to urgently tackle indolence among judges. His predecessor, Justice Mariam Aloma-Muktar, noted in 2013 that some judges did not deliver up to four judgments in a year, and would not start sitting by 9 am. Some even travelled abroad without permission, the retired CJN added. This scourge of indiscipline and slothfulness among judicial has to be arrested hence the need for a periodic appraisal of judges to ensure they are performing.
The rising incidence of corruption among personnel is another issue that has to be dealt with. The system is highly compromised, resulting in judges often granting frivolous injunctions. Judges who have soiled their robes are not fit to be part of the Bench.
Judges and other judicial staff need continuous retraining to handle difficult and complex cases. Provision of infrastructure is also critical to enhance performance. With the advances in information and communication technology, courts worldwide now operate with ease and efficiency to deliver quality rulings on time.
The National Assembly should speed up the passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice bill (2013), which seeks, among other issues, to limit the adjournment of cases to a maximum of five times with not more than 14 days interval, which is pending in the two chambers along with 14 other justice sector reform bills.
Amendment to relevant portions of the Constitution should be done to make some cases, like governorship and legislative elections petitions, terminate at the Court of Appeal. This will lessen the burden of the apex court.
Effective justice administration is key to the growth of democracy and economic development, hence the need to strengthen the system. In collaboration with the bench, the NBA should institute a system to punish lawyers who deliberately frustrate the judiciary; this way the association would be paving way to a faster regime.


Finding home


For the over two decades that I’ve lived on this earth,

I have always been homeless.

I have never had a home that I could call mine.

I thought of the idea of finding my home.

The idea of making that home my home and only home

And spend my forever with that home.

So I went all out in search of my home

I travelled all the length and breadth of the earth

Through the Saharas and worst of weathers

Searching for home

And in the process I saw many homes

Some were self-contain, while some a duplex

Some just a room and a parlor

Some were just single rooms

But none of the homes attracted me.

So I learnt that it’s not every house that is a home

Relentlessly I continued searching

Till I finally find home more than three years ago

Home wasn’t just a mansion or a big house

No, Home is a country home

It has all the delectable qualities needed in any great home

Home is exactly like I’ve always dreamt off and even more

More than I’ve always imagined

Don’t get me wrong, home is not perfect

Perfection belongs to the Creator alone

Home is an imperfect home

But I love home’s imperfections

They are the things I love the most in home

I tried everything humanly possible to make home my home

So I approached home

I wrote poems to home

I composed songs to home

I wrote love letters to home

I called and texted home numberless times

But to no avail

So I decided to go spiritual in order to get home

I prayed everyday because of home

I prayed all nights because of home

I fasted every week because of home

I gave more charity because of home

I helped the helpless because of home

All for God to reward me with home

But I’m still waiting and hopeful

After awhile away from home,

I missed home; I hope home misses me as well

I love home and hope home would love me back

Cos I want to spend my forever with and in home

And be the sole occupant of master’s bed room in home

Because no one is like home