Lawyers Seek Review of Judges’ Appointment, Remuneration

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Some lawyers in Abuja have urged the Federal Government to review appointment of judges and remuneration of state prosecutors in order to expedite lingering court cases.

The legal practitioners called on government to appoint judges based on merit, saying that wrong choice of judges and poor remuneration affected the country’s judicial system.

The legal practitioners made the call in Abuja on Tuesday while speaking in separate interviews.

A Principal Partner, Royal Chambers, Mr Michael Oguntayo, said that most times, mediocre judges were appointed in place of competent ones who had many years of experience.

“The system is not encouraging when a mediocre is appointed as a judge over someone with rich years of experience.

“A situation like this arises as a result of favouritism,’’ Oguntayo said.

He decried the lingering cases in courts in spite of the introduction of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), meant to fast-track cases in courts.

A State prosecutor, Mr Umoh Inah, said that poor remuneration and lack of training left much to be desired as a prosecutor for the state.

Inah blamed some delays in the judicial system to poor remuneration which discouraged them from performing optimally.

He said that some prosecutors delay cases by asking for unnecessary adjournments.

“A lot of criminal cases linger more than civil ones because the state does not disburse money for effective prosecution of these cases.

“We are told to contribute our brains, skills, experience and wisdom as part of our contribution. Do we still have to go and source for funds to handle cases?’’ he queried.

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The prosecutor emphasised on underfunding and lack of training as a major factor which undermined the effectiveness of public prosecution.

“When people sue government, we are there to defend. Nobody cares how you will go about it.

“Why would cases not linger in a situation like that,’’ Inah said.

He called for an enabling platform for a good working condition to enable prosecutors deliver.

“Once there is no enabling platform for effective performance of jobs, there will be no effective deliverance.

“What the government is receiving from its prosecutors is as a result of the input they made,’’ he said.

The prosecutor called for more training for his colleagues to improve their performances.

A Defence Attorney, Mr Ebenezer Abadaki, said that to address the problem of lingering cases in court, more hands are needed.

“We need more court rooms. More judges have to be appointed and their remunerations as well as overtime allowances need to be paid so as to enable them sit up to 6pm.

“Also, something has to be done about the system of communication. Judges still take down witness statements manually,’’ Abadaki said.

He said that if the digital system of uploading was being employed by high court judges, it would go a long way to fast track cases. Another lawyer, Mr Ekpiri Utang, said that the Police constituted a factor in lingering cases in court through their level of investigations.

“The Police needs to do thorough investigations, especially in criminal matters because the system they use in obtaining information is very poor.

“They end up leaving rooms for proof of evidence, which lawyers tend to capitalise on,’’ Utang said.

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