by Akan Ido
Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) has blamed the office of the Attorney General of Nigeria (AGF) for the delay in the dispensation of high profile cases in the country.
She said this yesterday while administering oath on 25 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
According to reports, she said:
“The courts cannot on their own prosecute criminal cases… on the streets of Nigeria and beyond, the cry for justice lingers.
“The administration of justice is not confined to the courts; it encompasses officers of the law and others whose duties are necessary to ensure that the courts function effectively.
“The society can operate under the rule of law only if laws are administered fairly, rationally, consistently, impartially and devoid of any improper influences that may be inconsistent with each of these objectives.”
“The prison system for instance presents a horrific state that calls for urgent attention. There are presently an estimated number of 40, 000 prisoners in Nigeria with about two thirds of this population not convicted. Perhaps the Amnesty International is correct for laying blame on the Nigerian judiciary. Unnecessary adjournments of cases along with the attendant ills of the courts to ensure that inmates are tried within a reasonable time, comes into play here.
“The constitution provides that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, as the Chief law officer of the Federation has the power to institute, undertake, take-over, continue or discontinue criminal proceedings before the courts of law in Nigeria in respect of offences created under any Act of the National Assembly.
“It, therefore, follows that the courts cannot on their own prosecute criminal cases, there must be the willingness of all prosecuting agencies to prosecute cases brought before our courts, especially high profile cases of corruption and all others.”
She also spoke about the lack of funding for the judiciary at the state level saying, “It is regrettable that some State Executives treat the judiciary as an appendage of the executive arm.”
Now we know the problems, what are the solutions?