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Stop all cases from reaching Supreme Court, CJN charges Senate

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Stop all cases from reaching Supreme Court, CJN charges SenateChief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has called for the amendment of appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as contained in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) by the Senate so that not all cases terminate in the apex court.

This, Justice Muhammad noted, would reduce the workload of the Supreme Court, especially the stress that are weighing on its Justices, lamenting that not only that the apex court is the busiest in the world but that despite spiteful remarks; the entire judiciary of the country still remains the best globally.

The CJN spoke at the weekend in Abuja when members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, led by their chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

Justice Muhammad, who said the number of appeals pending and those received so far this year by the apex court are mind-bungling, further stressed the need for the federal legislature to amend the constitution to pave way for timely dispensation of justice in the country.

“Many of us don’t sleep for 12 hours as recommended by stress managers. We don’t write judgment merely by stating that so, so and so cases were filed by this and that, and end it up by saying appeal is hereby dismissed or upheld. We have to give reasons which are the bedrock of judgment writing.

‘’Nigerian Judiciary is one of the best in the world; and if nobody tells you, I am telling you today,” he said.

The CJN also bemoaned the shortfall in the required number of Supreme Court Justices as provided for in the 1999 Constitution.

He said: “The constitution empowers the Supreme Court to have 21 justices, yet we are having less than that number. We will have to appoint more justices to fill the gap soon.”

Besides, Justice Muhammad also identified gross underfunding as another problem not only facing the apex court, but the Judiciary as a whole.

His words: ’If you see amount allocated to the judiciary, it is far less than what is given to some ministries. Salaries of the judicial officers are also nothing to write home about over the years.

In his remarks, chairman of the committee, Senator Bamidele said both the Senate Standing Orders 2015 and the 1999 Constitution empower the Committee to oversight the federal judiciary.

‘’We are here today to keep faith with the time honoured tradition of the Committee’’, he said.

Senator Bamidele disclosed that all the 14 members of the committee are lawyers and that their names contained in the Legal Practitioners’ Roll of the Supreme Court.

He said it is a home coming, and indeed to interact and familiarise themselves with the CJN in order to find out the progress made by the judiciary so far as well as the challenges facing the Judiciary.

The chairman noted that since the Judiciary plays a very crucial role in the sustenance and deepening of democratic core values, the committee would make necessary interventions to strengthen and guarantee its independence as well as ensure its proper funding.

‘’The Committee would work in collaboration with the Judiciary to review laws and embark on reforms – including amendment to the Constitution – to ensure effective and efficient administration of justice’’, he stressed.

Similarly, the committee visited the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who also asked the senators to intervene in the poor funding of the judiciary.

According to her, most of their buildings are collapsing and dilapidating virtually in the 16 divisions of the Court of Appeal.

Responding, Senator Bamidele, assured that the Senate shall ensure to review judges’ salaries and change narratives of poor funding of the judiciary.

 

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