The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar has called for the appointment of more Judges on merit, saying it would tremendously help in the speedy dispensation of justice in the country.
The CJN who made the request while flagging-off the 2014/2015 legal year at the Supreme Court on Monday, described the level of delay in the dispensation of justice in the country as disturbing.
She noted that the sorry situation could be attributed 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”, she said.
Mukhta, however, acknowledged the challenges confronting the administration of criminal justice in the Nigeria, despite the existence of a dual principal enactment that governs the trial procedure in criminal cases in country.
The Chief Justice said it has been the general belief in Nigeria that criminal trials are often delayed where the litigants is able to engage the services of legal practitioners who could help in exploiting the weakness in the system and as a result frustrate the trial.
“It was at a time the practice by litigants to engage the services of lawyers who often delay trials to the point that conviction becomes unlikely as witnesses may no longer be available or where the witness is available, some facts relating to the case would have been distorted” she said.
She noted that it is in a bid to forestall all the challenges that exist in the judicial system, particularly in the Supreme Court, that the amended Supreme Court Practice Directions was passed in the 2013-2014 legal year, adding that there was need to ensure a civil justice system that is effective and responsive to the aspirations of the general public.
“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”, she said.