The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar has called for the appointment of more Judges, saying it would help towards expediting the dispensation of justice in the country.
The CJN who made the request while flagging-off the 2014/2015 legal year of the Supreme Court yesterday, also decried the high ratio of remand prisoners or awaiting trial inmates in Nigeria as alarming, a situation she said could be linked to an “inefficient judiciary”.
“As we inch closer to the completion of the 2nd decade of our nascent democracy, we cannot afford the degeneration of the Nigerian Judiciary. Therefore attention, in the form of an institutionalized pragmatic response must be carried out in several key sectors of the judiciary.
“Despite the existence of a dual principal enactment that governs the trial procedure in criminal cases in Nigeria, there are challenges in the administration of Criminal Justice System in the country. The level of delay in the dispensation of justice in Nigeria is disturbing and has over the years yearned for attention,” Mukhtar said.
She noted that although the new practice directions that were recently introduced by the various courts in the country helped to boost the speedy delivery of Justice, there was need to ensure a Civil Justice System that is effective and responsive to the aspirations of the general public.
“May I also suggest the appointment of more judges and Magistrates on merit, improved legal criteria and practice, alternative to pre-trial detention as well as introduction of pre-trial victim offender mediation and most importantly ensure a speedy dispensation of criminal matters.
“As it is with our Criminal Justice System, so also is our civil justice. As the back bone of our legal system, the common man in Nigeria should be able to resolve their grievances and obtain remedy in conformity with fundamental rights through institutions of justice. In an effective manner, civil justice requires that the system be accessible, affordable, effective, impartial and culturally competent. Effective civil justice also implies that court proceedings and judgments are delivered and enforced without unreasonable delays.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, as we approach election year, let me reinstate the resolve of the judicial officers appointed to pilot the Nigerian Justice system and assure you of our commitment to give our best in the new legal year”, she added.
17 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) were sworn in at the occasion.