Election Petitions: Justice To Ordinary Nigerians In Court Have Become Difficult – Okutepa
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Jibrin Samuel Okutepa has said that it has become difficult for ordinary Nigerians to get justice from the courts.
In a statement on Thursday, Okutepa said the reason the masses find it hard to get justice from the courts is that there are no Judges to adjudicate on regular commercial, labour, criminal and other very important legal disputes.
Mr Okutepa said the Judges have all been saddled with political adjudications across the nation. He added that the Judges are overwhelmed and overworked with electoral dispute resolutions.
Okutepa said he does not believe that three judges must sit on election petitions Tribunal, arguing that one incorruptible judicial officer can do.
He further argued that another option will be the suggestion of his learned friend of the Inner Bar, Femi Falana SAN, which entails an amendment of our laws and the use of retired judicial officers, and or better still some legal practitioners of impeccable character and integrity to hear election petition cases.
The Senior Advocate further stated some legal practitioners of impeccable character and integrity can also be used to hear election petition cases so that the judicial officers can be left to do their normal cases.
Okutapa’s full statement reads: “Justice to ordinary Nigerians in our courts has become difficult to get now. This is not on account that we have no courts. No there are courts. But there are no judges to adjudicate on regular commercial, labour, criminal and other very important legal disputes.
“These judges at all our judicial levels are have been choked in political adjudication all over Nigeria.
“Currently, the only business left for judicial officers to do is political cases. Now judges sit in three on election petitions. These judges are taken from their normal judicial functions and posted far from their normal jurisdictions.
“They are overwhelmed and overworked with electoral dispute resolutions. The other day I read that there will be no vacation for justices of the Court of Appeal because of election petition appeals. The same may apply to the Supreme Court.
“With the overwhelming and overworking judicial dockets, these judicial officers are bound to break down. They are human beings. As a people, we need to balance our priorities.
“While it is good to subject political rascalities to judicial adjudication, there is an urgent need to make our courts available for normal judicial adjudication for which the judiciary was established by section 6 of our constitution.
“Time has come when the legal profession, which is made up of the Bar and the Bench must come together to find solutions of giving justice to all Nigerians and not justice to the only political class.
“I do not, for instance, see why three judges must sit on election petitions Tribunal.
“I believe one incorruptible judicial officer can do. Or as my learned friend of the Inner Bar, Femi Falana SAN suggested, why can’t we amend our laws and use retired judicial officers, and or better still some legal Practitioners of impeccable character and integrity to hear election petition cases and leave our judicial officers to do their normal cases.
“It is high time parliament look into this issue and amend our laws to pave ways for other Nigerians to get quick justice from our courts”.
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