The House of Representatives has expressed its concerns over the slow pace of justice delivery in Nigeria, stating the need to carry out major reforms in the judiciary.
The House Committee on Judiciary at its inaugural meeting in Abuja on Monday vowed to spearhead the reforms, especially towards the decongestion of the prisons.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Onofiok Luke, noted that the oversight role of the lawmakers over the judiciary “is an enormous task.”
He said, “The enormity of the task is more demanding and pronounced in a developing democracy like ours where the independence and operations of our judiciary are constantly under threat.”
On the reforms, Luke said, “There are a lot of reforms to be carried in the judiciary. The committee, in synergy with relevant bodies and stakeholders like the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, the judiciary itself and civil society organisations, proposes to invigorate the judiciary for effective performance and quick, efficient justice delivery to the common man. It is my desire to work with every member of the committee in repositioning the judiciary and addressing the challenges confronting it.
“The slow pace of justice delivery and a backlog of matters is a cause for concern. Some matters spend a minimum lifespan of 10 years before their final adjudication at the apex court – Supreme Court. Part of this problem is that our legal system allows all matters to travel to the Supreme Court without limit. Not all matters should merit the attention of the apex court.
“In developed democracies like the United States, only constitutional and important matters reach the Supreme Court. General matters are handled by trial and appellate courts based on the precedents set by the Supreme Court. We will have to reconsider our laws to ensure that we do not overburden the Supreme Court, hence slowing down the pace of justice.”