‘If any tier of our courts is found wanting, judiciary is doomed’
EJIKEME’S experience at the Bar spans well over 20 years. He pointed out that the third arm of government (the judiciary) has to reposition itself to play a more important role in building the country. Besides, he has his views about the political situation in the country today. According to him, a lot more Nigerians are getting more interested in who would govern them unlike in the past when people were lackadaisical.
Expressing his opinion about the political situation in the country today, he said: “In Nigeria today, more people are more aware and interested in who will govern them unlike the recent past right from the presidential down to the councillorship level. Also, the elected officials are now put to task to deliver more than ever before. This is quite different from what applied in the past when everything goes and I find this interesting because it is a good development for our democracy. However, unlike what is supposed to happen in a normal democracy, our candidates have missed the point with what they campaign with. One would expect the campaign to be issue-based with clear cut ideologies and how to achieve their goals and visions rather they are talking about trivialities. For example, I expect for a governorship candidate in Lagos to tell us what he or she can do better and above what the present governor has done and not tell us what the other party did wrong. This, I feel is the issue because this approach enables the electorate to monitor your actions in office with what you said. The apathy to elections is diminishing and more people are willing to participate in deciding who rules them at every level.”
Speaking on the delayed election, he said that the excuse by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is untenable. He however added that no political party was disadvantaged by the delay pr postponment. His words: “On the elections that was delayed, I perceive an innuendo on the part of INEC giving an untenable excuse to delay. But looking at both parties, I don’t think anyone was disadvantaged by this delay, rather they should capitalize on that window to their best advantage. You and I can see that the heat and tension generated to the build up to February 14 have been doused. On my part as a voter, I am yet to decide who to vote for as my President because the major candidates we see are yet to convince me about their past records and what they plan to do for this country if elected and that is a sad development. I’m not interested in your religion or what part of the country you come from. I want someone who will lay a solid foundation for a better Nigeria that my children can grow up to be proud of and I think many people share this feeling. We should shun propaganda and face issues in order to move forward. Sometimes, I ask myself if there is any country like Nigeria because successive governments are only taking away from our Commonwealth and its like nobody wants this country to survive. We desperately need strong institutions that outlive any administration. Structures that guard against corruption and make policy implementation easy. One that focus less on the person on that seat.
Ejikeme has some views about our judicial system. According to him, any society with weak judiciary is doomed. He said the judiciary can be rated high, irrespective of the activities of few bad eggs. Examining the performance of the judiciary so, he said: “I feel it is so far, so good. As a lawyer I would rate the judiciary high but that is not to say we don’t have bad eggs or things cannot be done better. If any tier of our courts is found wanting, then the judiciary is doomed. The Nigerian Judiciary Commission has retired some judges for corruption and I think it can be more strengthened with total independence such as getting their money from the federation account and not waiting for the governor or president to release funds. I think the judiciary can perform better because he who pays the piper will naturally dictate the tune. That is why you find some judges compromising on standards. Coming to the bar, it is common knowledge that some lawyers act as stumbling blocks to justice dispensation through frivolous applications. This act is usually done when they are handling bad cases. This problem can be solved by the judge sitting firm. I know some judges who won’t accommodate frivolous applications but throw them away.”
If any tier of our courts is found wanting, then the judiciary is doomed. The Nigerian Judiciary Commission has retired some judges for corruption and I think it can be more strengthened with total independence such as getting their money from the federation account and not waiting for the governor or president to release funds. I think the judiciary can perform better because he who pays the piper will naturally dictate the tune
In addition to the issues he has already raised responsible for the slow pace of the judiciary, the notary public said there are other issues militating against optimum performance in our judiciary. As a result, he pointed out some of them. For him, the sector needs to be modernised. He said: “Our judicial process needs to be modernized. The act of writing on long hand by our judges is a cumbersome process that need to be modernized. This is because as you address the court, you sometimes need to pause for the judge to capture your statement and this disturbs your train of thought. The judge too may decide what to put down especially if he or she is tired; so it becomes subjective because the substance of the statement could be lost. Also the facilities of our courts could be so uncomfortable. Because of the power challenge, the court may not sit due to the heat in our courts. I must give kudos to the Lagos State government because I have travelled around the country. They have done so much to assist the courts in many areas by providing amenities. Also, it is not all cases that must get to the court. There are cases that really shouldn’t get to the court. Cases that, as a professional, you advise against taking to court but because many are aspiring to be senior advocates, they rush every case to court but they end up rushing back. That is why Lagos State in their wisdom started to unload the courts with the pre-trial conference. This arrangement is helping. However, the pre-trial judge cannot force you not to go to court but only advise. Another problem militating against optimum performance of our courts is the volume of cases before it. They are so loaded that a case that shouldn’t take a month is taking ten years and like it is said, justice delayed is justice denied. In one day, a judge may have about 50 cases to hear and that leads to adjournments. I hope to see a highly computerized court in Nigeria in order to smoothen the process of justice delivery.”
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