By Harry Awurumibe, State House, Abuja
Nigeria”s President, Muhammadu Buhari today called on judicial officers to work towards the creation of Special Courts to assist in the speedy administration and dispensation of justice in the country.
He made this call while declaring open on Monday the 2019 biennial All Nigeria Judges Conference of Superior Courts holding at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) at Jabi, Abuja.
President Buhari said: “I will advise that the conference should, in its deliberations, consider how to create an efficient structure for the proposed Special Crimes Courts or the urgent designation of existing courts as Special Courts with competent and credible judicial officers in order to remove administrative bottlenecks in the judicial process.”
The President also said he was not unaware of the challenges facing the judiciary, over which he has had discussions with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad.
“The government has been committed to a number of justice sector reforms such as review of extant laws and enactment of new laws that will improve the lives of Nigerians.
“Additionally, we have worked closely with the Chief Justice of Nigeria to ensure that judicial budgetary allocations are enhanced in view of the needs of the judiciary. I have strongly supported the increase in number of judges at High Courts, Appeal Courts and the Supreme Court in order to reduce the burden of the work placed on judicial officers. I will continue to do so,” he said.
According to the President, his administration was committed to the economic revival of the country especially by attracting foreign investment as well as fighting corruption and insecurity. He, therefore, solicited the support of the judiciary in this regard.
“Economic progress can only be sustained in an atmosphere of the Rule of Law where justice is guaranteed. I must therefore express my hope that this conference will achieve its objective of articulating interventions by which this Administration’s drive to improve transparency, security, and the expeditious adjudication of commercial, corruption related crimes including economic and financial crimes matters could be enhanced.”
President Buhari stressed that the constitutional mandate to check and balance governmental powers among the three arms of government creates the environment for continuous constructive engagement and as such, judges should use the opportunity of the conference to reaffirm their constitutional role as the ultimate arbiters on constitutional and social issues.
He also lauded the dedication of the judiciary in the timely dispensation of electoral disputes and urged them to do more.
“I am proud to observe that the judiciary both before and after the elections has improved in its ability to conclude election matters in a timely manner. There is still room for improvement and I urge the Chief Justice to initiate a study to understand the challenges of adjudicating election matters and to advise me on the steps that the executive can take to address those challenges,” President Buhari said.
Earlier in his speech the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Mohammed assured the government President Buhari of the continued cooperation of Nigeria judiciary.
In her welcome address, the Administrator of NJI, Hon. Justice Roseline Bozimo stated that the conference could not have come at a better time just as she argued that the Institute has continued to make giant strides.
The highlight was when Hon. Justice Chioma Nwosu- Iheme of the Federal High Court Benin Division who was recently freed by Kidnappers in Benin City, Edo State received a standing ovation when she was called to lead the opening prayers which was also observed by President Buhari who stood up for long duration of the prayer session.
In attendance at the event are representatives of the Senate President and Speaker of Federal House of Representatives.
Others are the Attorney-General of the Federation and minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Supreme Court justices, Appeal Court justices and Federal High and States High Court judges as well as Grand Khadis.