By Bamidele Aturu
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mariam Aloma Muhktar
It is time for lazy judges to bow out!
The administration of justice system in Nigeria is notoriously in shambles, so much so that the crisis is itself paralyzing. We have now reached a point that we need to bluntly say it the way it is: our people and our country are in serious trouble.
We are at the point of structural, procedural and substantive failure of justice. The greatest danger is not that failure of justice can be taken for granted but that institutions or formations that ought to prevent the decay of the system are either complicit or benefitting from the rot.
Perhaps the most nauseating aspect of the decay in the system is the frustrating delay in disposition of cases due to sheer laziness of judges at all levels, except the Justices at the Supreme Court who have been known to attend to cases sometimes after attending official ceremonies.
How can one explain that a Court of Appeal would refuse to deal with motions or appeals in 20 cases simply because it was going to hear an interlocutory appeal emanating from an election petition?
And that without the courtesy of sending a text message to lawyers many of who risk their lives traveling by air and on our death traps called roads and spend huge resources on hotel accommodation. If that is not irresponsible, then nothing else can be.
This sort of horrendous indolence is only possible in a jungle. My position is that judges who are tired of their jobs should simply bow out. There is no divine right to be a judge. The intolerable judicial laziness is compounded by the way some of the judges address lawyers and litigants as if they are their slaves.
Many of the judges are uncouth. When one remembers that these same people lobby to be appointed, one’s exasperation knows no bound.
The NBA is itself not interested in ensuring that lawyers and judges take their duties seriously. Many reasons can be adduced for the cult of silence. First, the NBA itself has become notoriously undemocratic.
People seek offices in the organization for sheer careerism and not for the pursuit of the noble objectives of the association. It has become in the hands of a reactionary cabal an instrument for positioning lackeys of the worst variety for government briefs.
Second, many of those who lead the association want to be in the good books of lazy and corrupt judges, again to advance their careers and survive. It is therefore futile to expect the association to stand up to judges who don’t seem to understand the import of the oath they swore as judicial officers.
In other words, the NBA is part and parcel of the disaster in the system. Anyone who loves this country and democracy must see the democratization or dismantling of the NBA itself, as it is, as a major patriotic duty.
I have made up my mind that if all other Nigerian lawyers choose they can keep silent and be telling lazy people ‘their lords’, ‘their lords’. I will not keep silent. I will join other Nigerians to do everything democratically possible to flush out such people from the bench.
I hope that I have not given a general clean bill of health to Supreme Court Justices; I have only made the point that they do not, unlike most other justices, treat cases before them with levity or show arrogant discourtesy to counsel and litigants.
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.