A legal practitioner, Mr Chukwuma Ezeala, has joined in the call for the reform of the Nigerian judiciary as well as highlighted key aspects that need to be improved in the sector.
Ezeala who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme Sunrise Daily, believes that the wrought in the system needs to be addressed.
He also believes that the 100 billion Naira budget for the sector in the 2017 budget is coming at the right time as the sector needs to move to the next level.
“Considering the problems we have in the Judiciary, considering the constant demand for funding, it will certainly make a little difference but I think we should do more.
Outlining some of the outstanding requirements of the Judiciary, he said: “we have a lot of challenges today, we have a lot of people being taken to the judiciary, we need to appoint more judges, we need to improve the court rooms.
According to him, “when you get into the court, you see that a lot of people are hanging outside.
“We need more court rooms, more buildings for the courts, we need to make them a bit more comfortable.
“If we are fighting corruption, where would we start, if not making that area a bit more comfortable, more friendly.
Pointing out the fact that Judges are still writing in long hand, Ezeala stressed the need to employ more people.
He also believes that another problem which might hinder the speedy development of the sector is how much would actually be released.
“You know the performance of our budget depends on how much they are ready to release,” Ezeala posited.
Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have asked President Goodluck Jonathan to assent to the amended sections of the 1999 constitution before the end of his administration.
The appeal was made at a forum between civil society groups, journalists and legal experts, aimed at appealing to President Goodluck Jonathan to assent to the amended sections of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to the groups, the Presidential assent to the amended constitution, especially those sections that deal with election and post election matters are necessary, in view of the forthcoming polls.
The organiser, Mr Clement Nwankwo of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, believes that it is important for the President to give his assent ahead of the elections.
Other Conveners at the meeting agreed that Presidential assent to the sections, especially those dealing with election matters such section 285, would provide a better framework for the tribunals and INEC to work.
Professor Oyewo, however, proposed that the lawmakers resolution on the amended sections should be allowed to be part of the laws, whether or not the sections have presidential assent after a period of time.
The National Assembly has amended some sections of the 1999 constitution including sections 65, 134,150, and 285, that deal with Electoral and Judicial Reforms.
Although both the Senate and House of Representatives have harmonised the amended sections, they are yet to be approved by the President.
A lawyer, George Eke has said that although the judiciary and legislative arms of the Nigerian government has have experienced significant progress, there are still some loopholes that need urgent attentions if these institutions must live up to their billings. Mr Eke, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, disclosed this while giving a mid-term performance assessment of the judiciary and the legislative arm of government.
He said though the reforms in the judiciary started before she was appointed as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar has taken more drastic steps in sanitising the system.
He said, “Justice Aloma Mukhtar that is the current CJN, has done a significant job.”
Mr Eke say one of the ‘significant’ job that Justice Mukhtar has done is in the area of discipline of Judges.
“Before this time of course, it was difficult to see a Judge either suspended or even dismissed,” he said.
Recall that Justice Mukhtar recently embarked on measures aimed at repositioning the Nigerian judiciary which is mired in a cesspool of inefficiency and corruption.
Justice Mukhtar, who is also the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in February recommended the compulsory retirement of three controversial judges for their alleged questionable conduct.
The judges are Abubakar Talba, Thomas Naron and Charles Archibong. The NJC recommended that they should be retired on ethical grounds. Justice Talba was the one who sentenced self-confessed pension thief, Yakubu Yusufu, to two years imprisonment on a three-count charge with an option of fine of N250, 000 on each charge.
In his own case, Justice Naron, was investigated by the NJC for the scandalous ruling he led three other judges to give at the first election petition tribunal in Osun State after the controversial 2007 elections.
Telephone call records showed that Justice Naron and former governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s lawyer, Kunle Kaleijaye, were having secret discussions prior to the controversial ruling. Justice Archibong who presided over the case of alleged rogue banker, Erastus Akingbola, was also disciplined by the NJC for judicial misconduct.
Mr Eke said Justice Mukhtar should be given all the support needed to carry out the onerous task of weeding out corrupt and lazy judges on the Bench.
Mr Eke said the National Assembly have performed creditably well in the past two years because there has been a measure of stability in the two chambers of the assembly.
He however said the uneasy quiet in the National Assembly calls for suspicion.
“We are annoyed that they (the lawmakers) are so quiet and that the stability in the National Assembly has been achieved in a manner that there are no Dino Maleyes that are talking about certain things that were not supposed to be giving to them,” he said.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday scored itself high, saying that it had done well in the last two years and pegging its level of success at 65 per cent.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakary Mohammed, who gave the assessment at the weekly chat with newsmen, said the House had passed through a lot of challenges but has triumphed and learnt its lessons in the process.
The spokesman of the House who gave a mid-term report of the chamber, said that in the last two years, the House had kept fate with it Legislative Agenda and recorded many successes.
He enumerated some of the successes to include the activities of the Committee on Finance in getting MDAs to remit revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund; the duel subsidy probe that exposed huge corruption in the downstream petroleum sector as well as the early passage of the 2013 Appropriation Act.
Mr Mohammed also enumerated the oil bench mark battle it fought during the consideration of the Mid-term Expenditure Framework and the work done so far by the House Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review.
He disclosed that the Constitution Review Committee had completed its assignment and would soon submit its report. On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), he said the committee was still working round the clock to ensure that it delivered a bill that could stand the test of time.
He however lamented that the House had been “grossly misunderstood” on many occasions it took certain positions on issues in the polity.