Delay in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria and the Need for Reform By Gobir Habeeb Bolaji
In our contemporary world of today, it is without any iota of doubt that delay in the administration of justice in Nigeria is one of the biggest and most embarrassing challenged Nigeria judiciary are apparently facing today. Delay in the dispensation of justice perse is perceived as inimical to the attainment of substantial justice. In some cases, delays are so extreme that they effectively deny justice, particularly to disadvantaged groups who may not be able to “grease the wheels” of the justice system.
Delay of cases in the judiciary have been an historical event which needs the serious attention of not only the judicial officers but the government in general. Hence, justice delay is justice denied. The problem bewildering administration of justice in Nigeria is basically rooted on our system and laws. It is my humble view that the judiciary are not the only pest eating and slowing the development of justice in Nigeria, there are multitude numbers of anomalies from different sectors that are contributing vehemently to delay of justice in Nigeria. But all in all, their level of contribution differs. for the purpose of perusing critically the aim of this writeup, i will narrow my opinion to the law enforcement agency and the judiciary
LAW ENCORCEMENT AGENCY
The law enforcement agency who are solely saddled with the responsibility of protecting the country is a branch under the executive. They are controlled by the president as the Commander and chief of army staffs in Nigeria. By way of commendation, they have been working effectively in ensuring that offender are arrested for their crimes.
However, problem do arised the moment they arrest offender, they believed that it all end in arresting. Police stopped every investigation the moment they put the arrested culprit in prison, leaving the court with the responsibility to prosecute the offender without concrete evidence.
Justice can only be achieved in due time if the court is groomed with adequate and compelling evidence, police should considered investigation of the suspect upon arrest as an important duty. It doesn’t end in arresting alone, an arrested culprit is just a suspect, it need evidence to prove him guilty. Hence, an arrested culprit without full investigation on the alleged offence will only tied the hands of the judge and thus, will served as an hinderance to delivered justice in due time. If the police and other law enforcement agency can work vehemently by conducting investigation after arrest, this will in many ways foster smooth and quick dispensation of justice in Nigeria.
Similarly, In Nigeria, we arrest before we investigate whereas investigation ought to have been done before you make an arrest. Suspect ought to be arraign before the court immediately they are arrested. But the case is different in Nigeria. Investigation of suspect only started when the suspect is apprehended which as such will prevent them from arraigning the suspect to the court due to want of evidence. The moment you arrest a suspect, you should confront him with charges. When you have enough evidence, a suspect would either beg for leniency or plea bargain. This will however fasten the smooth running of administration of justice not only in the court but also, within the police custody.
In this regard, I will conveniently blame both the system of litigation and judicial officers for the delay of justice in Nigeria. It is quite disheartening I must say, that judicial officers in Nigeria are contributing vehemently to delay in dispensation of justice in Nigeria. When I’m talking about judicial officers in this regard, the lawyers and the judges in court are not exempted, in fact, they play a leading role in the delay of justice in Nigeria.
Lawyers only go to court to argue one thing, “technicalities “. Lawyers only argue technicalities in court, countless of days and months are been spent on issue of technicalities in court before delving in to the substantive suit. They only look for mistake of the adverse counsel(lawyer) and will keep hammering their argument on that. This method is not helping in anyway, it delay justice entirely. A visit to any court in Nigeria will testify to this assertion. The truthfulness of this is not even far fetching, the recent case of the suspended CJN is a typical example. From the prevailing circumstance of that case, it is crystal clear that the SANS appearing for the CJN are only arguing on technicalities. They never for once proffer any defence to the alleged offence. I can bet it that if not for the smart method adopt by president Muhammad Buhari, the CJN will still be in office while they will keep arguing about technicalities in court.
Similarly, constant adjournment of cases in court often lead to delay of justice. Lawyers are fond of seeking for adjournment of case on a baseless ground. I’m a regular court visitor and yet I can count the numbers of time that the court delivered judgement. Motion for adjournment everyday. Are lawyers now scared of the court or what? Some counsel though having a prima facie case will end up losing the case due to constant adjournment.
judges while administering justice sometimes adjourn cases unnecessary. Some will even go to the extent of adjourning the case for almost a year in other to avoid the rigidity involve in dispensing justice in the said case. Judges are expected to dispense justice with competence, fairness, transparency, integrity and with a great sense of responsibility.
THE SYSTEM OF LITIGATION
As customarily observed, litigation involve three stages which are the mention stage, the hearing stage and judgement. This are the cardinal principles of every litigation. This three stage leading to attainment of justice often delay the attainment of justice. This is predicated on the fact that, the duration used by the court during this stage are too excess. There will be different days for the case to be mentioned in the court after which a long date would be chosen for the hearing of the case after which the judge will have to pick another date for judgement which can even take upto a decades. This system is time consuming and did not in anyway speed the dispensation of justice.
At this juncture, I will say that our government need to adopt another methods, there are countless alternative to stop this menace, there are many and better ways to overcome it. The following recommendation will help alot
1. Embracing global best practices directed towards speedy dispensation of justice, such as the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and other case management techniques in handling cases in the courts.
(2) proper investigation of cases by the law enforcement agency before arresting any suspect. This will however fasten the arraignment of suspect before the court since there will be concrete evidence on ground adduce from their investigation
(3) System of litigation should be mold in a way that will enhance speed dispensation of justice
(4) Avoiding unnecessary adjournment of cases most especially on baseless ground. Lawyers and judges should ensure justice is being achieve with immediate effect
Effective administration of justice is a coner-stone of good governance, which in turn is a requisite for development.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA
GOD BLESS MY FATHER LAND
Gobir Habeeb Bolaji is a 300level law student in Udus and also a campus journalist of pen press Udus
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