2023: Matters Not Related To Election Petitions Are Likely To Suffer Delayed Justice- Okutepa, SAN
After the general elections in February 2023 in Nigeria, Nigerian lawyers and Nigerian litigating public whose cases in courts across Nigeria are not election related cases are likely to suffer delayed justice and hearing of their causes and matters in Nigerian Courts.
This is because a total of two hundred and fifty- seven (257) judges of our various courts, including Federal High Court, High Courts of the various states and FCT, National Industrial Court of Nigeria and other courts “have been carefully” selected to sit on the election petitions cases that may be filed after the February 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
These judges do not include judicial officers that will be constituted to hear Presidential election petitions. No doubt many will be filed. Apart from these judges who have been ” carefully selected” and appointed for these national assignments, personnel of various degrees are also to be appointed as ad hoc staff to man the registries of the various election petition tribunals across Nigeria.
For about six months cases and causes in the courts of these 257 judicial officers will be left unattended to because by law election petition cases are to be heard and determined within 180 days from the date the petitions are filed. The litigating politicians have 21 days within which to start filing their petitions from the date the results of the elections are announced.
There is an urgent need for the leadership of the judiciary and the National Assembly to do something about delay justice occasioned by election petition cases in Nigeria.
Today the only cases that travel through the ladders of our courts with speed of lightning are election related cases.
In the speed of this lightning other equally important causes and matters are usually adjourned or unattended to for months for no faults of the litigants, the courts and the lawyers involved.
It appears that the political class does not have the interest of Nigerians at heart when they make laws concerning delayed justice in Nigeria.
Had they have the interest of the litigating masses at heart they ought to enact laws that will enhance the quick dispensation of justice in our land.
For instance is it not high time we make use of our retired judicial officers and very many senior members of the Bar for our various election petition cases and pre- election matters and then leave serving judicial officers to face the normal jobs of adjudication.
Why is the National Assembly and Executive Arms of Government and the judicial leadership not thinking of increasing the number of our judges and build good infrastructural facilities for quick dispensation of justice in Nigeria. Are the leadership of the three arms of Government really worried about delayed justice in Nigeria.
To get justice in Nigerian Courts today is like a camel going through the eyes of the needle due to combinations of factors that are majorly man made. Many cases suffered due to the pursuit of shadow justice instead of substantial justice.
So many factors have conspired to render our justice system the most expensive commodity in the world. Clearly unless something is urgently done, Nigerians will soon loss total confidence in going to courts to litigate their grievances. The investing public are afraid of investments due to slow justice in Nigeria. We need to do something urgently about delayed justice in Nigerian courts.