Declare state of emergency in judiciary, Access to Justice urges CJN
Access to Justice (A2J) has called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen to declare a state of emergency on the Nigerian justice system as the new legal year commences.
The group said while they commend the CJN for his interest in reforming the delivery of justice and ensuring that special courts are available in each State to try corruption offences, more can be done and should be done to reform Nigeria’s Judiciary urgently.
According to them, doing so would serve Nigeria in ways that meet public expectations of a truly independent institution that is confident of the integrity of its members and enjoy the confidence of the people.
“With the current budget of the Judiciary standing at N100 billion, we believe the Judiciary can be on its front foot and make a bold effort to overhaul the delivery of justice services in Nigeria and this is what Nigerians expect from it.
“There is a lot more that time and space will not permit us to include in this intervention, and although we agree with the CJN that things can and should no longer be ‘business as usual’ within the justice system, we think that a lot more can and should be done now to enable Nigerians see and feel that business no longer thrives as usual within the justice system. We are losing time and opportunities in not seizing this moment to push changes through. The time to act is now,” A2J said at a press conference in Lagos presided over by its director and deputy director, Mr. Joseph Otteh and Dr. Adenike Aiyedun respectively.
In a nine point agenda, the group urged the CJN to work to reduce court delays, combat corruption and strengthen judicial integrity, transparency and accountability. It also asked the CJN to initiate institutional reforms without delay and expressed concern that the current speed and pace of reforms is neither strong nor vibrant enough and not creating the kind of momentum or impetus that Nigerians are eager to see.
The group said: “In order to restore public confidence in the Nigerian Judiciary, reforms must target all courts and their leadership – administration / management. The CJN as well as the National Judicial Council (NJC) should provide the inspiration and framework to reform federal and state judiciaries, as well as rebuild and reform the delivery of justice, and fight corruption to win back public confidence in the justice system.”
A2J noted that though the CJN has zeal to reform the Judiciary, stakeholders in the justice system are not feeling the impact just yet.In our view, the Judiciary does not have the luxury of time to enable it stretch a reform plan over the course of many years, and for an institution in distress, it ought not take too much time for far-reaching changes to be delivered, it declared
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