House Expresses Concern over Slow Pace of Justice Delivery, Promises Reform

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Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja

House of Representatives has expressed concern over the slow pace of justice delivery and backlog of legal matters in the various court of law in the country.

Against this background, the green chamber has promised to work with relevant bodies and stakeholders to carry out a lot of reforms in the judiciary.

The Chairman House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, disclosed this yesterday at the inaugural meeting of the committee, where he revealed the desire of the committee to repositioning the judiciary and addressing the challenges confronting it.

He said over-sighting the judiciary entrusted to the committee an enormous task, adding that the enormity of the task was more demanding and pronounced in a developing democracy like Nigeria, where the independence and operations of the judiciary has constantly been under threat.

The chairman noted that by the Standing Order of the House, the committee has the legislative authority to oversight the following matters: judicial matters generally; federal judicial institutions including but not limited to Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, National Judicial Institute and National Judicial Council.

Others are Federal Judicial Service Commission, Body of Benchers, all courts/tribunals howsoever called, funded by the federal government through the first line charge or howsoever described; notary public; and annual budget estimates.

Luke said: “The slow pace of justice delivery and backlog of matters is a cause for concern. Some matters spend a minimum lifespan of 10 years before their final adjudication at the apex court – Supreme Court. Part of this problem is that our legal system allows all matters to travel to the Supreme Court without limit.

“Not all matters should merit the attention of the apex court. In developed democracies like United States, only constitutional and important matters reach the Supreme Court. General matters are handled by trial and appellate courts based on the precedents set by the Supreme Court. We will have to reconsider our laws to ensure that we do not overburden the Supreme Court, hence slowing down the pace of justice.”

Luke also stressed the need to continually advocate and protect the independence of the judiciary so that the judges would be bold and firm to dispense justice without fear and favour.

In the coming days, the committee would develop a work plan that aligns with the House Legislative Agenda recently unveiled which would operate as a guide for the committee, he added.