The Nigerian Judiciary is weak largely because it is not Independent. The Judiciary is not well funded and so judicial officers are poorly paid and operate under extremely terrible conditions. This explains the low quality of justice delivery; distractions and allegations of corruption in the system.
Is to call attention to the poor conditions, welfare and remuneration of Judicial Officers in Nigeria through the following action points:
1. Litigation – Court action to enforce financial independence for the judiciary already guaranteed by the Constitution but not implemented. Case is now pending before Justice I.N. Auta.
2. Constitutional reform – to strengthen weakness in the Judiciary. For instance, control of Judiciary by State Governors. State Governors can remove Heads of Court in States without the input of the National Judicial Council by simply commencing impeachment in the House of Assembly. Most C J’s are insecure. Again, a Judge cannot be appointed without the consent of a State Governor. Capital votes of State Judiciaries are controlled by State Governors.
3. Improved remuneration/ allowances – Ensure judges are well remunerated and compensated. Judges are extremely poorly paid. This explains the distractions and allegations of corruption in the system
4. Improved condition of service: Ensure Judges are properly accommodated and provided adequate facilities.Court houses and residential quarters are in very bad shape. Pension scheme for retired Judges are largely inadequate.
5. Transformation of court Administration and Management – Massive deployment of IT e.g. e-payment & e-filing systems, electronic court recorders, internet facilities, etc. Training of judicial staff on IT. The judicial system is still manually driven. Judges use long hand to record proceedings. Payment systems are largely cash based. Judicial support staff are poorly trained and remunerated. This is responsible for 90% of delays.
6. Quality of judges – Ensure the best and brightest from the Bar get appointed to the Bench.
7. Discipline of judges – Ensure corrupt and indolent judges are dismissed from the Bench.
8. Modernize rules of procedure – Massive review of criminal and civil procedure rules. The Lagos example. Most rules of court are generally old and date as far back as 60 years.
9. Strong Case Management -A report of the NJC Sub-committee on speedy dispensation of justice of 24thOctober 2011, noted that 75 % of cases filed in courts across Nigeria were frivolous and unnecessary. Part of the reason for keeping such cases is because of the failure to apply strong case management tools by courts. So case management tools in the rules are required to free up judicial time.
10. Case Management powers of Judges: Empower Judges to manage their cases. A Judge should be charge of his/her Court and should ‘descend’, as it were, into the arena if that will entail effective case management. Gone should be the days when a judge sits back and watch counsel take the Court on unnecessary and unhelpful rigmarole merely because an intervention would classify as a descent into the arena of conflict. The Fundamental Objective of Rules of Court is geared towards attainment of justice through the deployment of Judges managerial involvement.