By Sylvester Udemezue
- Amend existing laws to provide reasonable, practicable, but NON EXTENDABLE timelines for doing virtually everything that is done in court — filing of processes, service of processes, filing of all responses, filing and hearing of amendments, conduct of trial, delivery of judgment, filing of appeal, hearing of appeal, filing of further appeal to the SC, hearing and determination. Mark my word: reasonable, practicable, but non extendable timelines. The concept of extension of time must be abolished for Nigeria’s justice delivery system to work effectively. Please note that I don’t claim to be a saint; we all are guilty of applying for extension of time. But we apply for extension of time only because the law allows it. If the law forbids it, we won’t apply for it; just as we see in election petitions. Let’s abolish the concept. It has made most lawyers lazy, and the justice delivery system unacceptably slow, corrupt and ineffective. It also slows down the economy, delays progress by discouraging investment, especially foreign investment.
- Put necessary facilities in place– ICT; alternative source of power since public power supply is epileptic; necessary support staff, etc
- Appoint many more judges and Magistrates. You can’t introduce non extendable timelines without appointing more judges to be able to deal with the large number of cases already pending or expected as a result of the new system which would introduce much efficiency and attract more cases to the courts. At present, no State or court in Nigeria has sufficient number of Judges’ and Magistrates.
- Abolish all manner of long hand recording of any proceedings in court;
- Cut down on the number and length of extant court vacations. See: “How Leaders of Nigeria’s Judiciary Dissipate Valuable Time on Irrelevancies to the Detriment of Effective, Efficient Administration of Justice” By Sylvester Udemezue. (BarristerNG: May 16, 2020). Avoid anything that could lead to shutdown of courts. When courts are shut down, cases pile up. See: “Continual Shutdown Of Courts As A “Demonic Stronghold” Obstructing Effective Justice Administration In Nigeria” by Sylvester Udemezue. (Thenigerialawyer: April 06, 2021)
- Introduce enforceable sanctions against judges and Magistrates who fail to sit without reason cause. Define “reasonable cause”, and give lawyers and litigants right to write petitions against judges who fail to sit. Set up an independent body to hear such petitions in each state/court. Set a non extendable timeline for such hearing. Punishment should range from demotion, withholding of salaries to suspensions or delay or denial of promotions for defaulting judges and Magistrates. See: “Prolonged Justice Dispensation As The Bane Of Nigeria’s Judiciary: Leadership By Example As The Cure” by Sylvester Udemezue. (Thenigerialawyer: August 11, 2021)
- Let some appeals stop at the Court of Appeal. Just as we have in election petitions for National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.
The starting point is an emergency, stakeholders conference to be followed by a committee to draft recommendations which should be implemented without delay. If our courts start working effectively, our Country will start working effectively and progress in leadership, politics, and economy will set in.
Sylvester Udems Udemezue
January 02, 2022.