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116,623 cases pending in Federal High Courts, says CJ

Published by The Nation on Tue, 17 Sep 2019

The Acting Chief Judge (CJ) of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has said about 116,623 cases are pending in the courts.The High Court CJ said 16,144 cases were filed this quarter alone out of which 12,692 had been disposed off.He promised to take measures that would lead to improved efficiency and workers welfare.The CJ stressed the need for judges to uphold the Constitution for the unity of the country and the enhancement of law and order.He hailed the courts judges for their contributions to the promotion of democracy, particularly their efficient handling of election matters.Justice Tsoho spoke in Abuja at the beginning of the 2019/2010 new legal year of the Federal High Court.The Federal High Court CJ promised to ensure the appointment of more judges for the court due to the high volume of pending cases.From the reports received, about 116,623 cases are pending in the Federal High Court; 16,144 cases were filed in this quarter alone in which 12,692 have been disposed off.It is obvious that the judges were over-burdened with work in the last legal year. We, therefore, need to engage more judicial officers to help out.However, it does appear that there was no provision for appointment of judges in the current budget.I will make efforts to discuss with the relevant stakeholders to see to the possibility of facilitating the recruitment of more judicial officers in the course of the year.Read Also:The limitation of court casesThe Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, yesterday urged judges and lawyers to always ensure that their conducts promote the dignity and sanctity of the Judiciary to retain public confidence in their activities.The minister, who hailed the Judiciary for sustaining and growing democracy in the country, assured its stakeholders of a robust cooperation between his office and the third arm of government.He promised a relationship that promotes genuine cooperation without undermining the independence of this hallowed arm of government.Malami said: I urge my noble lords to maintain sanctity and credibility and to ensure that the sacred integrity reposed in your lordships remains unshaken at all times in order to foster and promote public confidence in all judgments and rulings that emanate from this court.I assure you that the promotion of these values will continue to guide your lordships to the greatest heights of our legal profession.I humbly urge this court, as part of the judicial arm of government, to remember that it is the anchor upon which our legitimate claim to a civilised society rests and revolves.To the lawyers, the AGF stressed the need for them to work with the courts to ensure that its dignity, integrity and credibility are not ridiculed in the eyes of the public.We must collectively shun fraudulent practices and render sound and unbiased advice to our clients based on laid-down laws and not on sentiment. We should also not be seen encouraging our clients in a bit to ridicule this court into doing the impossible.As ministers in the temple of justice, we must together foster the desired growth for a better society, because this court, on its own, can only do little as permitted by law, he said.The AGF hailed the leadership of the Federal High Court for its many policies aimed at enhancing the courts efficiency.He recalled the recent incident, which included the innovative provisions contained in the courts new Civil Procedure Rules (2019 Rules).Malami noted that the courts speedy handling of pre-election matters before, during and after the last general election helped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to effectively field the right candidates for the elections and the efficient conduct of election processes.Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Paul Usoro (SAN) frowned at what he called undue criticism of judges and judicial decisions by senior government officials in a manner that seemed to intimidate the Judiciary.Represented by Offiong Offiong (SAN), Usoro stressed the need for stakeholders to work for the sustenance of judicial independence, rule of law and the doctrine of separation of power.Usoro noted that in the face of the unwarranted attacks on the Judiciary, the society required independent-minded judges, who would be empowered to dispense justice to different persons, including government departments, without fear or favour.He said: The Executive arm of government and its agencies are increasingly and unceasingly critical of the Judiciary and its decisions, particularly in matters that the government and its agencies may be interested in.It is not unusual these days to hear high officials of government talk down the Judiciary and ridiculously and rather ill-advisedly dump all the ills of society on the Judiciary. Decisions by your lordships are sometimes brazenly denigrated and attributed to ulterior and ill-motivesand these on social and traditional media platforms.Veiled and sometimes open and, in all cases, audacious attempts are made to tele-guide and programme the decisions of courts.These are very dangerous practices that destroy the independence of the Judiciary and, by extension, the rule of law and indeed the fabric of our society.The society needs and can only survive if we have independent-minded judges who are empowered to dispense justice to all manner of men, including government departments, without fear or favour.We can only survive as a nation if the independence and vibrancy of the Judiciary, particularly the non-interference with the thoughts and decision-making processes of your lordships, are guaranteed and protected.Society is diminished when judges are robbed of their independent minds and thought processes and the confidence of the ordinary person in the Judiciary is thereby diminished, if not destroyed.Self-help and anarchy ultimately become the available remedy. Of course, our economy suffers in the process: the investing public, both local and international, lose confidence in our justice system consequent upon these denigrations of our Judiciary and there follows a consequential downturn in our economy with the attendant fallout on the socio-economic well-being of our people.In summary, the ultimate losers when judges are robbed of their independence, in thoughts and discretions, is the society and all of us, including our rulers of today.However, we are not entirely without remedy. To paraphrase the poet, the man dies in him who fails or is not able to stand up and/or speak against tyranny.The courage to stand up and speak out is what we all need, both the Bar and the Bench, in our present circumstances.My lords have, at critical moments shown such outstanding courage even in the face of danger and our prayer is that such courage and grit should never depart from our lordships.These are indeed moments that require courageous Judges with the candour and fortitude to speak truth to power, to borrow the hackneyed phrase, and to dispense justices to all manner of men without fear or favour, as demanded by your lordships oaths of office.We have no doubt that your lordships will continue to live up to these dictates of your lordships oaths and our prayers and thoughts will, as always, be with my lords in that regard.
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