The House of Representatives has decried the state of the country’s judiciary, lamenting that the slow pace of justice, as well as the delayed implementation of the reform, is a cause for alarm.
Onofiok Luke, Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, expressed the House’s concern at the committee’s inaugural meeting in Abuja on Monday.
According to him, part of the problem faced by the judiciary is that all legal matters rather than just constitutional and important cases can be heard by the Supreme Court, noting that such situation delays justice as the country’s apex court remains overburdened.
He stated that the House Committee will work with relevant stakeholders to ensure the judiciary is repositioned to function more effectively.
He said: “There are a lot of reforms to be carried in the judiciary. The committee, in synergy with relevant bodies and stakeholders like the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, the judiciary itself and civil society organisations, proposes to invigorate the judiciary for effective performance and quick, efficient justice delivery to the common man. It is my desire to work with every member of the committee in repositioning the judiciary and addressing the challenges confronting it.
“The slow pace of justice delivery and a 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 the 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 said the committee will be committed in undertaking its oversight functions dillgently.
He said: “The enormity of the task is more demanding and pronounced in a developing democracy like ours where the independence and operations of our judiciary are constantly under threat.”