The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Kayode Ariwoola yesterday assured judges in the country that he was not oblivious of the challenges confronting them, just as he commended them for remaining as, “the last hope of the common man”.
Justice Ariwoola, who gave the assurance in Abuja, at the opening of the All Nigeria Judges’ Conference of the Lower Courts, noted that notwithstanding the challenges, “some of which affect the effective discharge of your duties, thereby causing delays in the administration of justice,” the judges have done very well.
Harping on the contributions of the Judiciary to the sustenance of Nigeria’ s democracy, the CJN who was represented by Justice John Okoro of the Supreme Court noted that but for the judiciary, the nation would plunge into a state of anarchy.
“Foremost, let me commend each and every one of you for your relentless efforts and commitment towards the preservation of the prestige and relevance of the Nigeria Judiciary.
“It is important for me to acknowledge your invaluable contributions irrespective of the many challenges that beset the Judiciary, some of which have remained recurrent in past years, you have continued to evolve and rise to the occasion; as such, there is no better forum for me to commend your tenacity other than the All Nigeria Judges’ Conference of the Lower Courts,” he said.
While warning that the judiciary cannot afford to take the back seat or relax efforts in the building of the Nigerian nation, he said the judiciary must at all times present a united front and ensure that the, “confidence reposed in us does not wane.”
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Luke Onofiok, speaking with journalists shortly after the opening ceremony noted that the lawmakers were not unmindful of the challenges facing the judiciary.
He said although the increase of the judiciary’s proposed budget for 2023 was not enough, it was far better than
“There has been a gradual increase in funding to the Judiciary. The president met it at N100 billion, then took it to N110 billion and then N120 billion. Last year, when we did the medium term expenditure framework, from 2022-2024, it was supposed to run to N120 billion for each year as a statutory allocation to judiciary. It was supposed to run N120 billion for 2022, 2023 and 2024.
“But to have the president and the Federal Executive Council approve additional N30 billion to make it N150 billion goes to show his commitment to ensuring living and working condition for judicial officers and judiciary as a whole.”
While noting that the challenges confronting the judiciary which is the third arm of government are myriads, he called for the establishment of a special intervention fund to ameliorate the situation.
“I have been advocating for what we call a special intervention fund for the judiciary. We have intervention funds for agriculture, youths, entertainment, ICT and many more. So, there is nothing wrong with intervention fund for the judiciary.
“We have a whole lots of infrastructure to fixed, many of officers are still writing with shorthand. There is need for us to do a complete retrofitting of court especially as the court is now sitting virtually, he said”.
He disclosed that efforts are currently on to enact a law that would separate salaries and emoluments of judicial officers from that of certain political officers to make the Judiciary truly independent.
Earlier, in a welcome address, the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice Salisu Abdullahi, observed that the conference always presents a platform for judges of the Lower Courts to review and assess the state of the Judiciary and proffer solutions to the many challenges being faced in the discharge of their duties.