Senior Lawyers Seek Constitutional Court for Political Cases

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN) on Thursday canvassed for the establishment of constitutional court in order to decongest the workload of the courts in the country.

The body said that when it’s established, the constitutional court will effectively handle pre and post election cases so that other courts can be in a position to adjudicate in other civil and criminal matters.

Representative of the body, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), who made the call in Abuja on Thursday at a valedictory session held in honour of retired Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu Kafarati, regretted that the earlier proposal for the court was struck down due to lack of foresight.

He insisted that establishment of constitutional courts must be revisited and reintegrated into the constitution of the country in compliance with Section 250.

According to Awomolo, all political matters, including pre and post election matters and election petitions will be effectively handled by the court, while all appeals from the court will terminate in the Court of Appeal.

According to BoSAN, if the constitutional court is established, each state of the federation shall have its own Court of Appeal and that only constitutional matters will go to the Supreme Court.

Awomolo recalled the revelation by the Federal High Court that over 16, 000 cases were carried over from 2019 to 2020 legal year with many of the cases filed over four years ago, adding that the trend must not be allowed to continue since it can lead to denial of justice.

“Decongestion in all the courts have become a great burden, a source of concern and embarrassment. In the Supreme Court, only political cases are being heard on daily basis.

“Indeed, every day, on the case list of the Supreme Court, there are about 12 to 15 cases for hearing. The Court of Appeal in all the divisions are daily preoccupied with pre and post election cases.

“Most high courts are occupied with political cases and most judicial officers from the high courts to Supreme Court have no vacation this year due to heavy work load of cases in their courts.

“The consequences of these, is that litigants in ordinary civil cases and matters are groaning in pains because justice has been and is still being denied them due to delays in their matters”, he said.

The body of senior lawyers also canvassed that the Code of Conduct Tribunal which had been elevated to criminal court must be seen as a judicial body as a result of the enormous powers vested in the tribunal, adding that it must be made a part of the court under Section 6(5) of the constitution and that any person to be appointed must be certified fit and proper in every sense of it.

Awomolo then called on the Bar and the Bench to push for constitutional amendment to back up the establishment of the suggested constitutional courts.

In his speech, the acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, applauded the contributions of his immediate predecessor for the enactment of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019, adding that the new Rules introduced a remarkable departure from the old Rules and also constituting anti corruption unit in the court to avoid corruption.

In his speech, the retired Chief Judge, who thanked his brother judges for their contribution in making his tenure as head of the court a success, identified the practice of running an open door policy as the secret behind his success as Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

“I practiced an open door policy, ever ready and willing to accommodate all”, he said, adding, “the successes achieved during my tenure were because of the cooperation and support of all judges and staff of the court. There was never a rebellious voice because I related with them with an open mind”.

The occasion was graced by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, lawyers and traditional rulers.