The House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary on Monday said there was an urgent need for Nigerian Judiciary to be reformed in order to encourage fast and equitable dispensation of justice.
The Chairman of the committee, Onofiok Luke, while speaking at the inaugural meeting of the committee, lamented the rate at which cases were being delayed in courts.
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.”
Speaking further, he said 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.
Luke also maintained that the committee said it would expedite action to visit prisons in the country and consider decongesting them.
The committee, however, concluded to meet with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Ministry of Justice and Nigerian Correctional Services to carry out their assignment appropriately.