A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, J.B Daudu has reacted to the CJN’s statement that interlocutory appeals to the Supreme Court be abrogated.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, had during the 2022/2023 Legal Year Opening, called for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to allow for certain cases to terminate at the appellate court.
Reacting, J.B Daudu stated that:
“The issue of delay in the justice delivery system is one that I don’t want to comment on at this material time. I am appalled that the CJN is calling for abrogation of interlocutory appeals to the Supreme Court. The existence of that constitutional right is not meant for the comfort or convenience of appellate court justices but for the protection of ordinary citizens who may be subjected to untoward judicial treatment by lower courts otherwise christened by the higher Bench as judicial rascality. If everything that happens to a litigant and counsel during the course of civil and criminal proceedings is reserved until the final judgment of the trial court including the display of judicial bias (which is usually the basis of most interlocutory appeals) that would be the end of justice as we know it and the eventual collapse of judicial accountability.
Interlocutory appeals are going no where and we will fight for their sustenance rather than their removal. If today’s generation of Judges are still complaining about entrenched justice sector structures such as interlocutory appeals then it means that something is wrong somewhere and we know what and where that thing went wrong.
Let any one table the Bill to amend the Constitution seeking the deletion of interlocutory appeals and we will tell the entire Nigeria why in reality there are excruciating delays in the Justice delivery system. Suffice to say at this stage that it is a systemic deficiency in the judiciary arising from (1) lack of capacity in the Judges to optimally deliver the best quality justice due factors arising from appointment deficiency. (2) distraction from main official duties and attending too many political events, ,(3) over concentration of the judicial docket on political and electoral cases as if the entire justice sector and judiciary was created for the benefit of politicians.
It is a matter of communal embarrassment for those of us in the justice delivery system that appeals filed in the year 2005 are still pending in the SC. Such appeals would not have taken more than 3 years to clear during the military era and yet there were only 9 SC Justices on the average during that period. I am not canvassing for a return to that era.( I am only saying that we should be making progress rather than retrogressing)
So the problem is not with the laws as they currently exist. It is with our personnel both at the Bench and the Bar. Rather than punish hapless Nigerians by taking away their hard-earned historic constitutional rights we should look to purging ourselves of bad attitude and practices that hamper the growth and development of our justice sector.”