The House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary has said there is need to reform the country’s Judiciary to ensure fast and equitable dispensation of justice.
Chairman of the committee, Onofiok Luke, who spoke at the inaugural meeting of the committee, decried the long period for the dispensation of justice in the country.
He said: “There are lots of reforms to be carried out in the Judiciary. The committee, in synergy with relevant bodies and stakeholders, like the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, the Judiciary itself, civil society organisations (CSOs), proposes to invigorate the Judiciary for effective performance and quick, efficient justice delivery to the common man.
“The slow pace of justice delivery and backlog of matters in Nigeria is a cause for concern. Some matters spend a minimum life span of 10 years before their final adjudication at the Supreme Court.”
He added: “Part of these problems is that our legal system allows all matters to travel to the Supreme Court without limit, and not all matters should merit the attention of the apex court.”
According to him, in developed democracies, like the United States of America (U.S.A), only constitutional and important matters reach the Supreme Court.
“General matters are handled by trial and appellate courts based on 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 wheel of justice.
“We need to continually advocate and protect the independence of our Judiciary so that our judges will be bold and firm to dispense justice without fear of favour. By our laws, our judges are not allowed to speak freely,” he said.
The lawmaker, who elaborated on the work plan of the committee, said it would collaborate with relevant stakeholders to visit prisons across the country on their possible decongestion process.
The committee members agreed to liaise with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Ministry of Justice and Nigerian Correctional Services.