Thu. May 30th, 2024

•Summit seeks reduction of CJN’s powers

Jude Johnson

In a bid to address key challenges plaguing Nigeria’s judiciary, stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Justice and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) have proposed significant reforms in the judicial appointment process, funding mechanisms, and the eradication of delays in the administration of justice. These recommendations were made at the recently concluded two-day National Summit on Justice 2024, organized by the Federal Government in collaboration with the European Union-funded RoLAC II Programme of the International IDEA.

The summit culminated in the adoption of the National Policy on Justice 2024 to 2028, serving as a strategic roadmap towards a more efficient, equitable, and responsive justice system for all Nigerians. Dr Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, Chairman of the Joint Planning Committee of the Justice Summit, highlighted the outcomes of the summit’s three technical sessions.

A major focus of the summit was the overhaul of the judicial appointment process, particularly the role of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC). Concerns were raised regarding the dual role of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) as the chairman of both bodies, potentially leading to conflicts of interest. Stakeholders called for the reconstitution of both the NJC and the FJSC to ensure greater transparency and diversity in the appointment process.

Furthermore, the summit addressed the need to reform the State Judicial Service Commissions (SJSCs) to better reflect the interests of justice sector users and ensure a more diverse composition. Recommendations were made to clarify the roles and responsibilities of SJSCs in the judicial appointment process.

In line with efforts to enhance transparency and meritocracy, the summit proposed adopting a model similar to Kenya’s judicial appointment process and emphasized the importance of codifying the appointment process to minimize discretion. Additionally, urgent action was recommended to address deficiencies in funding for state courts, with a call for joint efforts by the executive and judiciary to ensure adequate funding.

The summit also emphasized the professionalization of court administration and advocated for the separation of court administration from the administration of justice. To tackle delays in the administration of justice, the summit suggested limiting the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to matters of significant national importance and curbing automatic rights of appeal.

The recommendations put forth at the National Justice Summit 2024 signal a concerted effort to reform Nigeria’s judiciary and pave the way for a more accountable and efficient justice system. As stakeholders continue to advocate for these reforms, there is optimism for a brighter future for justice delivery in Nigeria.

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