By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has called for the regular supervision of the lower courts by relevant judicial officers to ensure efficient and effective justice delivery at the grassroots.
Justice Muhammad gave the charge Monday at the National Workshop for Directors and Inspectors of Area/ Sharia/Customary Courts in the country.
The Acting CJN specifically charged directors and inspectors to imbibe the habit of paying unannounced visits to the lower courts so as to see things as they actually are in the courts.
“It is a well known fact that the Area, Sharia and Customary Courts adjudicate over a large number of cases in Nigeria, as they are bereft of technicalities and easily accessible to the grassroots. This further emphasises the importance of your duties in the administration of justice.
“Consequently, directors and inspectors of these courts must be up and doing, as you are expected to pay regular visits to the courts in order to inspect personnel and facilities therein. Certainly, these visits which I recommend should be mostly unannounced; will assist in keeping the judges of these courts on their toes,” he said.
Muhammad, while stating that the leadership of the judiciary is not unmindful of the challenges the directors and inspectors faced in the daily discharge of their duties, urged them not allow the challenges deter them from carrying out their statutory duties.
”I urge you to ensure that corruption must be eschewed in your rank and file as the tendency to write a negative report about a judge who refuses to dance to your tune is certainly possible.
”As directors and inspectors of the Area, Sharia and Customary Courts saddled with the responsibility of working in the temple of justice, I must not fail to mention that your actions and inactions within and outside the court premises must be in consonance with the dictates of the Code of Conduct for Court Employees, as your behaviour and attitude to both court users and the general public is like a billboard which advertises the character of the whole judiciary to the public,” he said.
Earlier, in her welcome, the Administrator, National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice Roselyne Bozimo (rtd), said for the directors and inspectors to effectively and efficiently engage in court supervision, they must know what their duties entail as well as the powers and limits attached to their office.
“No doubt, your duties as directors and inspectors is to guard against miscarriage of justice. Therefore, in your intervention on the complaint of bias and miscarriage of justice, be careful as litigants may sometimes feel that the court is biased in favour of the other party in the proceedings,” she said.
Bozimo further advised them to handle issues of alleged bias carefully so that they in turn do not fall victim to the same allegations of bias.
The administrator said the theme of the workshop ‘Improving the Quality of Justice Delivery in the Lower Courts’ is in line with the Education Committee to ensure quality of justice delivery at all levels.