By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chief Judge (CJ) of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Ishaq Bello, on Monday, disclosed that a total of 13,961 cases were disposed of by the court in the 2018/2019 legal year which ended last August.
Bello said out of the 30,582 caseload in the preceding year, 16,396 were fresh cases, while 14,186 were carried over from the 2017/2018 legal year.
He made the disclosure at a special court session held in commemoration of the new 2019/2020 legal year.
“In total, 13,961 were disposed, this is an indication of our ever increasing case load.
“From the statistics available, on the average, a court has about 850 cases in its docket and about 387 cases decided per judge,” he disclosed.
Bello further revealed that at the Magistracy, 11,969 cases were disposed of out of 21,108.
He added that complement of judges and magistrates need to be augmented to meet the huge workload.
In a further breakdown of the cases, Bello noted that in the Sharia Court of Appeal (SCA), 206 cases out of 223 in the last legal year were disposed of with 17 pending.
According to the CJ, the total number of cases at the Area Courts were 9,682 with 6,579 carried over from the 2017/2018 legal year, bringing the overall caseload to 16,261, with 9,906 disposed of.
Similarly, he noted that while 566 cases were disposed of from the 664 at the Customary Court of Appeal, 1,115 were disposed of from the 1,180 cases at the Customary Court.
In his remarks, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), represented by Mr. Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN) commended the smooth relationship between the Bench and the Bar and advocated its sustenance.
According to him, “The synergy between us must continue for the delivery of justice that would be obvious to the ordinary man on the street.
“The bench, it is noted, has been under trial from the media, security agencies and the public who do not even understand the modus operandi of the Bench.”
The NBA President while lamenting that the ‘Bench has no voice to defend itself’, urged the bar to stand in defence of the Bench.
The representative of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), Abuja Branch, Mr Chris Uche (SAN), harped on the independence of the judiciary in ensuring optimal performance of the justice sector.
He described the independence of the judiciary as an indispensable component of the rule of law, stressing that the judiciary albeit in Nigeria is undergoing very trying times.
He added that the general feeling was that the judiciary is under a siege, particularly since the beginning of this year.
“We attended the International Bar Association Conference in Seoul, and our major takeaway was the showcase symposium on the rule of law which had such huge message for Nigeria.
“The focus was on the assault by some governments around the world on the rule of law by attacks on the independence of the judiciary and of the legal profession,” he said.