Lagos, Jan.14, 2020
Some Lagos-based lawyers have on Tuesday, called for a more vibrant, efficient and bold Judiciary in the year 2020, so as to promote speedy acess to justice.
The lawyers said that the year 2020 should mark a positive transition from an era of delays in justice dispensation, to one of speedy justice. delivery.
According to them, all factors responsible for “clogging the wheels” of smooth proceedings must now be “nipped in the bud” in the new year.
VIEWS OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER MR SPURGEON ATAENE
In 2020, I expect a judiciary that is people and public spirited. A judiciary that can feel the pulse of the nation. Not one that does the dirty works of the establishment. We hear a lot of the independence of the judiciary but in reality there is no such independence.
As a people, how can we galvanize this independence. One way to do this is for lawyers with a bent for activism to chronicle the cases between the state and governments and show where the pendulum swings. This watch dog system can make judicial officers sit up knowing they are being watched .
Next is to expect judges and magistrates to brace up to the challenges of justice delivery particularly with a view to instilling discipline in the system. Judicial officers who have made 10am and beyond their sitting times should desist from such acts. Lawyers shouldn’t be made to wait at their behest . I also suggest that judges who have the propensity to descend into the arena and are even more loquacious than some women in the market should desist from such acts. Their role is impartiality. If they are to intervene for purposes of guidance then it should be calm and controlled without insults . Irrelevant stories and discussions not within the purview of the law should be eschewed. I suggest for quick delivery system, cases not slated for trial should be adjourned for the court to concentrate on the matters for trial.
In criminal cases,I opine that matters which come up twice without witnesses should be struck no matter the severity of the charge. This will achieve decongestion of prisons we often pay lip service to. In Lagos I want to see more compliance with the provisions of Section 264 of The Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2015 and urge other states to adopt or modify to suit their system in what appears now to be largely a unified criminal justice system
Finally I urge all heads of Judiciary to create a Bar-Bench forum which should meet periodically like 3 times yearly to assess the growth of their judicial systems taking into account areas that need review and therefore practice direction.
OPINION OF RIGTS ACTIVIST CHEIF MALCOLM OMIRHOBO
My expectations are that judges should endeavour to take public interest cases that borders on the interpretation of the Nigerian constitution very seriously and speedily too because justice delayed is justice denied . It is my observation that Nigerian judges are so timorous, insensitive and callous when it comes to interpreting the constition. They delay constutional cases rendering them nugatory and in most cases academic exercise . I make bold to say that the Nigerian judicial has lost its salt and must take steps to redeem it’s image . Let me give some instance . When the army announced its intention to be involved in the 2019 elections , I went to court to challenge it in good time but the court was to shy hear the case , the election case and passed and we are all leaving witness of how the army messed up the elections . Again when the Inspector general of police announced restrictions on vehicular movement during the 2019 elections , I went to court to challenge it in good time but the court did nothing . The elections came and went with the rights of Nigerians violated and the case is still pending in court On the military occupation of Nigeria , I have over six cases on it and courts have refused to give them the attention that they deserve .
In the area of discipline , corruption ,efficiency and effectiveness , I do not expect much from the judicial because we have incompetent people at the National judicial council and as Chief Justice of Nigeria .
Come to think about it who do I report an erring judge to ?
Convener of the Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary (FIACIJ) Mr Bayo Akinlade, said that in 2020, the judiciary must learn to “assert” its independence .
“The judiciary in 2020 must take the front role in the protection of the fundamental rights and liberties of citizens.
“There must bep elimination of all forms of delays in delivering justice, and the judiciary must learn to deal decisively with all incidences of corruption within its ranks,” he said
Akinlade underscored the need for a better infrastructure for the courts, and urged judicial activism to protect citizens from oppressive tendencies.
“Administrative functions of the Chief Judge should be divested in another person who is a qualified and experienced administrator .
“The judiciary should encourage a unity of purpose by taking advantage of existing laws that give it some oversight powers especially within the administration of the criminal justice sector,” he said
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