Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, and the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Monday differed on how to decongest the court for more efficient performance.
While Justice Tsoho made a case for the engagement of more judges of the court in order to enhance justice delivery in the division and by extension the nation’s judiciary, Abdullahi Ibrahim (SAN) called for the creation of specialised divisions of the court.
Justice Tsoho predicated his call on the heavy workload of litigation faced by judges of the Federal High Court in the discharge of their official duties.
The Body of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (BoSAN) as part of suggestion to ease the heavy burden on judges of the Federal High Court has called for the breaking up of the court into specialised divisions.
They made the call at the special court session held to mark the beginning of the Federal High Court Legal Year 2019/2020 in Abuja.
Declaring the legal year open, Justice Tsoho disclosed that the judges worked tirelessly to dispense 12, 694 out of the 16, 144 cases brought before them in the previous legal year, while noting that there are still 116, 623 cases pending at the court.
“It is pertinent at this juncture to highlight the status of litigation before this court in the last legal year. From reports received, about 116,623 cases are pending in the federal high court. 16,144 cases were filed in this quarter alone in which 12,694 have been disposed off. It is obvious that judges were over burdened with work in the last legal year. We therefore need to engage more judicial officers to help out,” he said.
The acting chief judge while noting that there is no provision for appointment of judges in the current budget, however, assured that efforts would be made to engage relevant stakeholders on the possibility of recruiting more judicial officers in the course of the year.
He also assured that he will continue in the footsteps of his predecessor in improving both human resources and infrastructural development in the court. In addition, he said he would make training of judges and staff of the judiciary his priority in order to enhance their professionalism.
He also promised to work with the legislature and the executive to entrench constitutionalism in the federal judiciary, disclosing that the Federal High Court has amended its civil procedure rules to enhance speedy dispensation of justice.
“The new rules contain certain innovations to meet with the dynamism in law and to bring the court at par with other courts in the developed world. Some of these include affidavit of non multiplicity of actions (Order 3 Rule 9(2)(d); a reinforced interpretation of the Territorial Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, such that no leave is required for service of process anywhere within the federation (Order 5 Rule 31)”, he said.
In his remark, representative of the BoSAN, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), said that the establishment of the specialised divisions would enhance the optimal operation of the Federal High Court.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), charged judges of the court to put in motion proactive measures and programmes that would enable the court meet all its challenges and promote administration of justice in the country.
The minister, who also spoke at a special court session to mark the commencement of the 2019/2020 legal year of the Federal High court in Abuja, noted that the judges of Federal High Court can achieve that goal through handwork and determination.
The minister disclosed that the speed at which the Federal High Court handled pre-election matters at the wake of the election during and after the general elections, has helped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to effectively field right candidates for the election and the efficient conduct of election processes.
He applauded the collaboration and cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal High Court which, he said, have contributed to the memorable development of the nation’s legal system.