NBA-AGC 2022 : Falana, Ozekhome, Otteh And Agomoh Identify Challenges Of Nigeria’s Judiciary

NBA-AGC 2022 : Falana, Ozekhome, Otteh And Agomoh Identify Challenges Of Nigeria’s Judiciary

August 31, 2022 Uncategorized 0

*”Separate Office Of AGF From Minister Of Justice In Order To Separate Judiciary From Politics” – Ozekhome, SAN
*Falana Lampoons Indiscriminate Use Of Dollar As Exchange In Nigeria
*Otteh Frowns Against Transfer Of Judges Without Adequate Preparations
*Dr.Agomoh Urges Lawyer To Embrace Reforms To Help Address Overcrowding In Prisons

Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mr. Joseph Otteh, and Dr. Uju Agomoh on Wednesday gave various views on how to tackle the consequences of undermining the judiciary in a democracy.

The senior lawyers made their submissions at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference in Lagos.

Speaking during the session, Ozekhome called for the separation of the Office of the Attorney-General and that of the Ministry of Justice in order to separate the judiciary from politics.

He also urged that a separate budget within the judiciary is looked into in order to take care of judgment creditors who have to put extra effort just to get what is due to them.

According to him, “Nigeria is in quagmire, judges are afraid to deliver judgment because government is on their neck.”

This factor, he observed, is one of the consequences of undermining the judiciary under the country’s democracy.

He, however, held that the judges must be given the independence.

Also speaking, Falana said that the current situation where the rights of Nigerians is seen as mere benefits or dividend of democracy must be corrected.

He made reference to the current situation where the American dollar is been used as a means of exchange by some individuals as unacceptable.

“In Nigeria today, dollar is being used as a means of payment for house rent and even school fees, this is against our constitution,” he said.

Mr. Joseph Otteh, the Executive Director, Access to Justice, explained that a host of factors limits the functionality of justice in the court.

He identified that overcrowded dockets, escalating cost of accessing justice are also major barriers now as in the case of filing fees.

He mentioned that the courts are not responsive enough to the issue of people having access to the court of law.

“We are still paper driven which is labour intensive and we are not prepared enough for another pandemic”, he said.

Otteh frowned at delays trailing cases, attributing the snag to transfer of judges without adequate preparations.

“Our judges really fail to exercise the courage they need to display when they face challenges like impunity from the state”, he noted.

He said, “If the judiciary cannot faithfully exercise their authority, the judiciary will be undermined.”

Dr. Uju Agomoh, Director, PRAWA, wants the judiciary to use its power to stop overcrowding at the custodial centres in the country.

She was particular about controlling the rate of reception into custody and duration inmates spend in prison.

She wants lawyers to embrace the legal instrument for prison reforms in their legal practice to overcome the challenges besetting the correctional service.

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