Immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, has warned that unless the Supreme Court of Nigeria is adequately funded, the apex Court may soon end up a glorified High Court.
The former CJN lamented that Justices of the apex court are suffering in silence since 2008 when their salaries and emoluments were last reviewed by the federal government.
Onnoghen, who spoke in Abuja, at the public presentation of Nigeria’s first law book on Construction Law, revealed that some Justices of the apex court still live in rented accommodation in unsuitable areas in the Federal Capital Territory.
Besides the poor residential accommodation issue, the former CJN explained that chambers of the Supreme Court Justices are unbefitting of their status and appealed that the court is properly funded to enable the Justices to perform optimally in a conducive atmosphere.
He recalled that while in office as CJN, he headed a team comprising the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as well as the Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF) which prepared a new welfare scheme on the order of the federal government and lamented that since his exit, the Welfare Scheme Report which would have enhanced the condition of service of the Justices had been jettisoned.
He, therefore, pleaded that funding of the Judiciary should be immediately looked into with a view to improving on it because of the critical role of the Judiciary in nation-building and maintained that the Supreme Court is still been overworked with Justices bearing the brunt.
Justice Onnoghen canvassed that appeal cases should not get to Supreme Court as of right but by leave of the court to eliminate congestion in the workload of the court.
“The Judiciary is not Nigeria’s problem but bad leadership. There must be a rethink on issues affecting the Judiciary because, without a strong legal profession, you cannot talk of the rule of law”, he said.
He commended the author of the book Mrs Ewuwuni Onnoghen-Theophilus and pleaded that youths should be encouraged to enable them to contribute meaningfully to the general development of the country.
Also speaking at the book presentation, a former AGF Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) praised the resourcefulness of the author and expressed optimism that the book would serve as a veritable tool to address the crisis bedevilling the construction industry in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the occasion, the publisher of the book, a senior lawyer, Chief James Onoja (SAN) said, the laws in the construction industry as brought out in the book would serve as a guide to players in the industry, especially in the incessant cases of collapse structure.