The persistent use of the ‘Holden Charge’ by security agencies to detain awaiting trial suspects, is a major contributor to the high number of cases pending in our courts, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mariam Mukhtar, has said.
The CJN spoke Monday in Abuja, at a special session organised by the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the 2013/2014 Legal Year.
Holden charge allows security agencies to charge suspects to court before investigations are concluded, a practice which the CJN says has caused undue delays in the criminal justice administration system of the country.
“It is common knowledge that our security agencies usually rush to the courts with suspects, before looking for evidence to prosecute them…This procedure is a far cry from what obtains in other democracies, where discrete surveillance is placed on crime suspects who are painstakingly stalked by security agents, until such a time when enough evidence would have been obtained for their arrest, arraignment and prosecution,” she said.
In addition, she expressed concern over the slow pace of administration of justice in the country.
“To exhaust complete remedy in a case, that is from trial court to Supreme Court, could take up to 20 years with the original litigants dead and substituted and in some cases the substitutes also dead and substituted,” she said.
The CJN therefore called for an overhaul of the country’s criminal laws, which she described as “archaic and culturally irrelevant.”
Also speaking at the event, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Okey Wali, drummed up support for the inclusion of a representative of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, in the National Judicial Council’s disciplinary proceedings against judges.
Wali also called for increased funding for the judiciary.