The Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, has said that the syndrome of continued adjournment of cases on the grounds that investigations of cases are ongoing would no longer be tolerated by the court.
Speaking during the inauguration of courts’ De-clogging Panel and Settlement Week Committee for the FCT Judiciary, Justice Bello said that the development was informed with the aim to enhance the capacity and integrity of the system.
According to the CJ, the public could also be assured of better access to justice through providing timely hearings, supported by efficient administration leading to just and efficient results.
Lamenting daily reported cases of extortion of families of inmates by those with prosecutorial powers in the country, Justice Bello said that most of the victims are extorted on grounds that charges would be reduced or dropped against their wards but cannot voice out against the injustice because of the ripple effect it may have on the inmates.
According to Justice Bello, the decay in the justice delivery system has opened the floodgates for people to be imprisoned without justification.
He said, “This decay has opened the floodgates for people to be imprisoned without any justification simply because somebody somewhere decided to influence hostile charges against them.
“This was what necessitated the setting up of the De-clogging Panels aside the primary need of freeing up the courts’ dockets.
“My heart bleeds when I come to think of how the families of those behind bars could get extorted on daily basis on ground that charges would be reduced for their relations or even set free from the prisons.
Daily, these people are being extorted and they dare not open their mouths because they fear that they might be aggravating the conditions of their own behind bars.”
Giving an insight on how the newly constituted panel would function, Justice Bello said: “If the court discharge any suspect whom they want to re-arrest, the court will not make any new order to rearrest but as soon as they do that, we will give them two weeks within which they must lead evidence”.
In their response, the Director General, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Adedeji Adekunle (SAN) and the Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye lauded the initiative.
They further urged other heads of courts in the country to key into the initiative to ensure speedy dispensation of cases.