- Hon. Onofiok Luke, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, says Nigeria’s Judiciary sector needs intervention funds
- Luke led a team of lawmakers to Lagos on an oversight visit to the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal, and National Industrial Court
- The lawmakers said that the government must provide better living and working conditions for judicial officers in Nigeria
The chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Onofiok Luke, on Monday, December 13, decried the state of Nigeria’s Judiciary sector.
According to him, the judiciary sector is being plagued by poor funding and needs N100bn - N200bn special intervention fund to meet its competing demands and challenges.
Hon. Luke made the call while during an oversight visit, with some of his members to the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal, and National Industrial Court.
The team, who visited the three Lagos courts stated that the government must provide better living and working conditions for judicial officers in Nigeria.
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While speaking to Legit.ng journalist at the start of his visit, Hon. Luke said:
"In the course of advocacy, we decided to come on an oversight visit in Lagos to better the living and working conditions of judicial staff, make for a quick dispensation of justice and good environments for litigants. When we see challenges during our visit, we will take them back to the committee and then make our recommendations to the House.
"We don't want to sit in Abuja and assume things, we want to come down to Lagos and see things for ourselves."
Shortly after making their first stop at the Court of Appeal, Hon. Luke expressed pleasure at the retrofitting spotted at one of the courtrooms of the court.
He said: "As we look at 2022 budget, we are going to lay emphasis on retrofitting of court, this is something really good. We appreciate the NJC, the president of the Court of Appeal and the CJN, I wish we can have the finances to have this across the nation."
Hon. Luke also spoke about the state of unfinished building projects for judicial staff which according to him, needs funds for completion.
"With what we have seen on ground, we consider primarily and it is imperative that we have to create an enabling environment for the judicial officers. Enabling environment at their workplace and enabling environment at their residents. I don't think anyone of us will want to reside here.
"We have seen it and we are going to take it into consideration at the committee and we are going to make our recommendation to the House at plenary. We are going to see what we can do so that this is added to the 2022 budget. We have started advocacy and we will continue to do that.
"We have been asking and pleading for an intervention fund for the judiciary. If we have an intervention fund, we will have better residents for our judicial officers, we will have our courts retrofitted.
"There is no way we could as a committee have adequate input or know where to make adjustments without seeing the project of the judiciary firsthand, so we decided to embark on an oversight visit to judicial bodies under the jurisdiction of the committee," Hon. Luke said.
The chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary and his team also made a stop at the ongoing building site of the new Federal High Court before making a final stop at the National Industrial Court.
After inspecting the new court complex under construction, Hon. Luke said:
"Earlier, we were at the court of appeal and now we are here in the new building of the Federal High Court, the completion of this project is at the heart of the nation's judiciary.
"If we can have an intervention fund for the entertainment industry or if the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) can have an intervention fund for the Agric sector, there is a need for a special intervention fund for the judiciary in the sum of N100 billion or N200 billion.
“The last time there was a review of the salaries of the judicial workers in Nigeria was about 13 years ago. If we are asking them not to be corrupt, though I am not saying poverty is an excuse to be corrupt, they must be well taken care of because we are all buying from the same market.
“With what we have seen on the ground in Lagos, we are committed to improving the administration of justice in Nigeria, the House under the Honorable Speak, Femi Gbajabiamila, is also committed to judicial reforms.
"But most importantly, the judiciary needs an intervention fund, if we want to fix the judiciary to be where we expect it to be, then there is a need for an intervention fund. Not only to take care of infrastructures, but to take care of the welfare, emoluments, entitlements, and salaries of the judiciary officers, it is nothing to write home about.
"We must equip them so they would be satisfied and discharge their duties effectively. Look at this building, work started since 2011 but we are looking at finishing it by 2022, if we have had funds, we won't have stayed on this project for too long."
Also speaking to Legit.ng journalist, the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Emmanuel Gakko, revealed that the new court complex under construction would be completed by March 2022.
According to him, the building which started in 2011 was about 81 percent completed, and that the contractors had promised to deliver the project unfailingly by the first quarter of next year.
Gakko, however, thank the federal government, the National Assembly, and the NJC for the support they gave to the project, which he maintained would improve the productivity of the judges and other support staff.
Judges now pervert justice, sell judgements to highest bidders, says Jega
Legit.ng previously reported that a growing trend within the Nigerian judicial system has been brought to the fore by the erstwhile chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Jega said some corrupt judges within the Nigerian judicial system contribute in no small measure to the issues bedevelling the nation, adding that they usually use their positions in election tribunals to subvert justice by selling judgements to the highest bidder while enriching themselves.
He said these judges sold judgments to the highest bidders and turn around to retire quickly all in a bid to avoid sanctions by the National Judicial Council