CJN Traces Poor Criminal Legal System to Inefficient Judiciary
Posted: 30/Sep/2014

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Alooma Mariam Mukhtar, GCON has disclosed that the high ratio of remand prisoners or awaiting trial inmates in the country is alarming and “to a certain extent linked to an inefficient judiciary”.

Justice Mukhtar stated this at a special session of the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the 2014/2015 legal year and swearing in of 17 newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

Out of the 17 SANs sworn in, a recipient, Justice Olu Onagoruwa, a former AGF was conspicuously absent but the CJN said he would take his oath today.

“Although the necessary actors needed to salvage the situation is not the judiciary alone. This conscious effort involves members of the legislative arm as well as the executive. The judiciary however remains at the forefront of the struggle” she said.

The CJN posited that, “The judiciary can thus provide sustainable solution, by implementing an improved court bail criteria and practice good organization and have law officers in the area of speedy recording of court proceedings”.

Justica Mukhtar also suggested the appointment of more judges and magistrates on merit, improved legal criteria and practice, alternative to pre trial detention as well as introduction of pre-trial victim offender mediation and most importantly ensure speedy dispensation of criminal matters”.

She lamented that “despite the existence of a dual principal enactment that govern the trial procedure in criminal cases in Nigeria, there are challenges in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. The level of decay in the dispensation of justice in Nigeria is disturbing and has over the years yearned for attention.

However, in the course of the 2013/2014 legal year, the CJN said the Supreme Court had 1288 cases, made up of 180 civil appeals, and 86 criminal appeals.

In addition, she said the apex court entertained 44 political appeals while 83 civil judgements and 42 criminal judgements along with 21 political judgements were disposed off in the year under review.

“In total, 146 judgements were disposed off in the 2013/2014 legal year. This is a modest accomplishment when compared with the preceding legal year” she remarked.

On the new SANs, she said that 132 legal practitioners and academics applied for the rank, of which 109 were legal practitioners and, 23 academics.

After the filtration process by the Privileges Committee came out with 17 “deserving” SANs.

While commending the SANs, the CJN reminded them that, “A senior Advocate of Nigeria plays a critical role in the legal profession. He is to assist the courts attain justice and in doing so, must espouse an impeccable standard of diligence, integrity, discipline and demonstrate the highest standard of advocacy”.

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