It is understatement to say that judiciary is the most important social institution, but is the last hope of every society. For long in Nigeria there are endless calls for justice sector reforms as a result of decay and others problems that affect the credibility, integrity and effectiveness of judiciary in proper dispensation of justice. The outcries of the general public was based on many factors particularly in the administration of criminal justice system.
To bring the desired change in the administration justice should start with the improvement of the welfare of judicial staff specifically judges of lower courts and other staffs of the courts. To dispense justice without fear, favor or any other influence and pressures will not be easy by poorly paid and hungry judicial staff who can easily induce to compromise the course of justice.
In addition to the improvement of the general welfare of the judicial staffs full independent and financial autonomy of judiciary is imperative. The struggles for the improvement of non-judicial officers and financial has been on and consistent championed by Judicial Staffs Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) since the regime of late General Sani Abacha who indicates his desires to succumb to the demand, but was discouraged from senior judicial who frustrates the efforts that will laid to rest these burning issues.
However, all the successive regimes ignored JUSUN struggles which is central and key to make our judiciary truly the last hope of the common not dashed hope.
Before I go further I am appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to hasten the processes of financial autonomy of judiciary that will pave ways for attracting best brain to judiciary. We are quite aware Governors since 1999 were not comfortable with this development just like the were vehemently against the financial autonomy of state houses of assembly and local government areas for reasons best known to them.
The problems of administration of justice is not only limited to the judiciary alone but includes the Police, Ministry of Justice and Correctional Centres. The successes of criminal proceedings depends to a large extent on the prosecution which starts from the investigation up to the final determination of the case. Where the investigators conductes comprehensive and thorough investigation, the tasks of the prosecution will be more easier in proving the commission the alleged offence. In the instances where the investigation is halfdone it will open more rooms for delays which will be detrimental to the course of justice. Sometimes the investigation will take longtime to complete which have negative consequences in the discoveries and preservations evidence to prove a case at hand.
On their parts Ministry of Justice play vital roles in facilitating speeding dispensation of cases through unnecessary delays in releasing legal advice to determine the likely commencement of the trial.
Another factors affecting diligent prosecution is the issue of welfare of State’s Counsels that is very poor despite the fact that they are always coming face-to-face with harden criminals and their unknown sympathizers in courts and streets which needs to be looked into with urgency as a source of motivation.
Police/Ministry of Justice contributes to the prison congestion in Nigeria whereby it now serves as learning instead of rehabilitation centres of criminality which led to high rates of recidivism in our society.
Apart from the agencies our elites particularly political elites lacks political will to do the needful in saving our justice sector from total decay that disastrous to our collective wellbeing. In addition to the absence of determination and zeal to protect the judicial system, the political elites exert enormous pressures on judicial officers to dance to their tunes which resulted to the dismissal of judicial due to corrupt practices.
As the saying goes behind every corrupt Judge there are corrupt lawyers who conspired and manipulated the course of justice. Debarring of lawyers in Nigeria is not a new phenomenon because we comprised our positions as Ministers in the Temples of Justice to Ministers in the Temples of Money. The responsibility to save the judiciary requires the collective efforts of all and sundries otherwise the consequences will be grievous that consume all of us.
In conclusion, I am humbly appealing to Nigerians to support the Movement for Justice Sector Reforms initiated by brave, courageous and vibrant academician in person of Dr Aminu Yahatu of the Department of Political Science, Bayero University Kano. A call for justice sector reforms today is a foresight for a better tomorrow where the rule of law will be the cardinal principles in governance to ensure our collective wellbeing.
Ado Umar Lalu writes from Katsina, can be reach via email@example.com, 08060306089