Body of SANs Calls For Establishment Of Constitutional Court
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN) has called for the immediate establishment of a constitutional court that will address the issue of undue delay in court cases occasioned by the prioritization of political cases.
The proposed constitutional court, according to BoSAN, will handle all “constitutional, political and election matters”.
Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), who spoke on behalf of other senior advocates, added that the court will be a federal court, and of the status of a high court with divisions in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Awomolo, who spoke at a special court session commemorating the beginning of Federal High Court Legal Year 2022/2023, Monday lamented that: “Within this last six months that most courts are fully engaged in attending to political cases, the primary and statutory causes of this court under Section 251 (1) -(4) of the constitution have suffered inevitable delay.
“The founding fathers of our democracy and those who fashioned the specialized and exclusive jurisdiction for this court did not envisage the aberration of cases on political disputations arising from lack of internal democracy, political shenanigans and impunity in the management of political parties, as one that will interrupt this court from doing its constitutional duty.
“Normal cases inevitably had to suffer adjournments thereby frustrating good and urgent causes. With all humility, we have reached a stage when very urgently, the parliament, judiciary and stakeholders in the administration of justice should consider establishment of National Constitutional court of Nigeria.”
He explained that all decisions of the court will be appeallable to the Court of Appeal and all appeals end at the Court of Appeal.
BoSAN claimed that when the court is established, there will no longer be the need to take away about 500 judges from their normal court responsibilities to sit on election tribunals all over the country.
“The cost of establishing and maintaining this court will be equal to the sum being wasted on provision of logistics, convenience and security for judges, and hundreds of support staff who are made to traverse the length and breadth of Nigeria to adjudicate on political and election cases.
“We urge that this suggestion be given national conversation, with a view to encouraging the parliament to turn its attention to policies that will strengthen the structure of our administration of justice,” Awomolo said.
In a welcome address, the Chief Judge (CJ) of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, observed that the occasion affords the court the opportunity to reflect and possibly connect with its history and sacrifices of prominent pioneers in the establishment and sustenance of the court’s legacy.
According to the CJ, the Federal High Court in this new legal year will focus on providing access to justice as much as possible.
“Also, I am more resolute than ever to keep to my promise of providing innovative methods of improving the administration of justice,” he said.
While assuring the audience that the welfare of judges and staff will continue to receive top priority, the CJ lamented that poor fundings to the court is making “it almost impracticable to effectively achieve its normal running”.
The situation, according to Tsoho, has brought to the fore, “the need for the judiciary to exercise more control over its administrative, financial and operational matters to have the capacity to implement the necessary reforms within the court system”.
Besides, he observed that the amended Electoral Act, 2022 brought additional task to the judges of the Federal High Court without any support whatsoever.
He said based on the new law, he had to constitute a “Special Task Force” for the swift disposal of electoral cases to avoid their expiration.
While stating that some judges of the Federal High Court have over 1,000 cases in their dockets, Tsoho said: “As at today, a total of 1,838 pre-election cases were filed in the court, out of which 1,285 cases have been disposed of, leaving a total of 556 cases pending.”
Culled from Thisday