Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has again called for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to allow for certain cases to terminate at the appellate court.
Justice Ariwoola made the call yesterday at the commencement of the 2022/2023 legal year of the Supreme Court and inauguration of 62 barristers and solicitors elevated to the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
The CJN said due to the backlog of appeals and heavy workload, it has become pertinent for certain appeals to terminate at the Court of Appeal so as to decongest the Apex court.
“We have said it repeatedly that ordinarily, most appeals should be allowed to end at the Court of Appeal; but such constitutional provision is yet to be enacted, so we have no blame in it, rather, we are daily overburdened by that long-awaited constitutional amendment as we work round the clock to attend to the plethora of appeals,” Ariwoola stated.
The CJN insisted that, “There should also be an amendment of the constitution to stop most interlocutory appeals from coming to the Supreme Court; they should be allowed to end at the Court of Appeal. The attitude of some of our lawyers too is unexciting.
“Some do not even mind throwing their integrity and reputation to the winds by taking briefs that they know lack substance, just for pecuniary reasons.
“So disturbing is the fact that even in the face of failure, they would still persuade their clients to push the case further on appeal,” Justice Ariwoola said.
Speaking at the occasion, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami SAN assured the judiciary that better days are ahead for the third arm of government and the overall administration of justice in the country.
Malami exuded confidence that the recent approval granted by President Muhammadu Buhari, in addition to increase in the salaries and allowances of judicial officers, and also conditions for their health, well-being and professional development; will usher in a new lease of life and impetus for the judiciary to operate maximally in a more beneficial and rewarding environment.
The AGF said the Buhari-led administration, in line with its commitment to promoting the rule of law, has accorded top priority to the funding of the judiciary, by ensuring a “progressive budgetary allocation to the judiciary which has seen an increase from N73 billion in 2015 to over N130 billion in 2022. A further increased sum of N150 billion has been proposed for 2023.”
Malami disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Justice was in the process of reviewing the National Policy on Justice, to enhance stakeholders’ ability to tackle issues hindering the entire justice sector.