Groups seek increase in judiciary funding
The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have urged the federal and state governments to provide appropriate funds that would improve the judiciary system.
This was stated during the presentation of findings on court observations on the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) by Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative held at the weekend in Lagos.
Speaking on the report findings, the Chairman, NBA, Ikeja branch, Prince Dele Oloke said there is need for a symbiotic relationship between government and the judiciary that will lead to proper funding of the system to enhance transparency and accountability of justice in the country.
“Government feel that they are not making money from the judiciary and that determines the limited resources put at their disposal. We at the bar fight everyday to preserve the sanctity of the bench. But that is the level of what we are doing as a pressure group, the bottom line is that the president and governors decide on the amount of money and resources made available to the judiciary,” he said
He said the country has a large population with lesser number of judges attending to hundreds of cases daily without appropriate facilities and equipment provided to ease the job, which reflects in the justice system.
“Lagos state alone has more that 50 million residents. We have up to 70 judges in the court rooms and when a judge has more than 800 cases in his or her docket, and sits on an average of about 20 to 50 cases in a day – they are humans like us and also have their health, family challenges and societal expectations, how far do you think they can go?” he stressed.
While presenting the findings on the implementation of the ACJL in three states of Lagos, Ondo and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as recommendations, the Programme Manager, PWAN, Barbara Maigari said investing in the Nigerian judiciary is crucial for strengthening the democratic and development process as well as the judicial reforms in the country.
She said Lagos state, which has taken the lead on judicial reforms, should increase its investment in the magistrate courts by providing electronic equipment such as electronic recorders to handle the criminal cases, and also invest in building the capacity of the ACJL actors in the state in relation to implementation of the law.She added that there should be constructions of new court buildings, stressing that the exclusion of access by persons with disabilities to public buildings need to be addressed.
Also speaking, the Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria, Lagos branch, Ngozi Ogbolu noted that the area of congestion in prisons need to be taken care of, as it will help the implementation of the ACJL, which would lead to “a better country with a better judiciary system.”