FIRST female Chief Judge (CJ) of Taraba State, Justice Josephine Tukur, tied the Nigerian judiciary’s alleged poor performance to its underfunding by the relevant authorities at the federal and state levels across the federation.
She believes that if the current unsavoury situation is addressed, the judiciary would live to its billing in the dispensation of justice.
The CJ in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Jalingo, the state capital, said that once the authorities deemed it fit not to starve the arm of government of the needed funds, the judiciary would come out of its woes and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s development.
Tukur said: “From time immemorial, the handicap of the judiciary has been lack of proper funding. Once there is proper funding of the judiciary all other problems would be tackled.”
She said although the judiciary is faced with several problems, once the funding challenge is resolved, “every other thing will fall in place. According to her, “there are problems, but I cannot list all of them but the most formidable of all of them is poor funding,” stressing that it is not in the interest of the country to allow the situation to persist.
The CJ, who reiterated her readiness to build on the achievements of her predecessor, Adamu Aliyu, who bowed out of the Bench recently after attaining the retirement age, pledged to reposition the judiciary in the state and decongest prisons.
To achieve the immediate decongestion of the prisons, Tukur said due process would be followed by looking into the case files of all the inmates and taken immediate steps to resolve the lesser offences.
“One, we will not just go to the prisons and start decongesting them. You have to look at the nature of the offences, how long the accused have been in detention and whether they have been arraigned before any court. Is it a bail-able offence or is it a simple case that can be tried on the spot?”
She vowed to work hard to ensure that inmates heave a sigh of relief, adding that, “if I visit the prisons and I find such cases, why won’t I act on them summarily? Nobody is interested in keeping anybody behind the bar.”
On her appointment as the first female chief judge of the state after 20 years of its creation, Tukur said it was “an act of God. He used the men to elevate me to my present position in the judiciary. Whatever you achieve in life, it is God that has made it possible.”