•PCA rules out new projects in 2016
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, is not happy at alleged inconsistent decisions of the nation’s courts especially on election petitions.
The CJN is said to have taken note of public complaints about contradicting decisions, particularly by divisions of the Court of Appeal, and fears the situation is capable of eroding public confidence in the Judiciary.
The CJN suggested to the Appeal Court to create “an internal law report for Justices to access either electronically or in print in order to reduce the avenue for conflict in its jurisprudence.”
He also drew the attention of Justices of the Court of Appeal to the suggestion made in 2008 by a retired Supreme Court Justice, Niki Tobi, to the effect that “immediately a decision is given in one division, it should be sent to the other divisions without delay.”
Justice Mohammed spoke in Abuja last week at 2015 edition of the Annual Conference of the Court of Appeal.
The CJN argued that judges, being guardians of the law, “must not only be just, but also convey certainty in our justness.”
His words: “It bears reminding that the overriding objective of every legal system in the world is to do justice. However, this cannot be achieved where there is confusion as to the state of the law as pronounced by the court.
“As your lordships will agree, where an aggrieved person perceives, whether rightly or wrongly, that they will not receive justice, such a situation can indeed bode ill for the community in which he lives and can lead to acrimony and anarchy.
“We must not ignore the negative perception that is occasioned by conflicting judgments delivered at various divisions of the Court of Appeal.
“Such judicial contradictions only result in untold hardships to litigants in their quest for justice. They further cast your lordships in an unfavourable light and leave the judiciary at the mercy of inuendos, crass publications and editorials.”
Justice Mohammed commended the court’s Justices for their positive contributions to the development of the nation’s justice delivery system.
He hailed the court’s head, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa for the way she constituted election petitions tribunals in spite of budgetary constraints.
“I must similarly commend your lordships for being instrumental in propelling the judiciary towards an improved system of administration of justice in Nigeria.
“With one justice of appeal to 1.8 million Nigerians, I dare say that your efforts at dispensing justice, despite frightening caseload, can best be described as extraordinary.”
Justice Bulkachuwa said 2015 was quite challenging for the court, because it was an election year.
She ruled out the possibility of the court embarking on fresh project this year in view of the new policy of zero budgeting, but assured that the court would strive to complete all existing ones.
Bulkachuwa noted that the court’s annual justices conference, introduced by a former President of the court, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, was intended to enable the court take stock of its activities for the year, identify challenges and seek solutions.