Nigerians, most litigious people on earth – CJN

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  • Ibrahim Muhammad

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad has said that Justices of the Supreme Court are over-worked owing to the rising volume of cases being brought before the court.

Muhammad, who blamed the development on Nigerians’ preference for litigation, suggested a constitutional amendment to stop interlocutory appeals for terminating at the Supreme Court.

The CJN, who called for an enhanced remuneration for judges, blamed lawyers for contributing to the high volume of cases in court.

“As rightly observed, Nigerians are the most litigious people on earth. In every little disagreement, we rush to court; and in every lost case, we rush to appeal even up to the Supreme Court, no matter how infinitesimal the issue might be.

“That has obviously accounted for several appeals pending in Supreme Court. The attitude of some of our lawyers, too, is less salutary.

“Some do not even mind throwing their integrity and reputations to the winds by taking briefs that they know don’t hold ground, just for pecuniary reasons.

“So disturbing is the fact that even in the face of failure, they would still persuade their clients to push the case further on appeal.

However, the attitude of some of our lawyers has to be properly checked by the Nigerian Bar ASSOClatlon. l have stated it severally that lawyers must desist from the practice of filing needless appeals at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

“Let it be known that the Supreme Court will henceforth be unsparing in punishing blatant abusers of court processes.

“There should also be amendment of the Constitution to stop interlocutory appeals from coming to the Supreme Court. It should be ending at the Court of Appeal.

“From my experience, an elevation to Supreme Court is an elevation to hard work, restlessness and sleeplessness,” Muhammad said.

He spoke in Abuja on Monday at the event marking the Supreme Court’s new legal year and the inauguration of the 38 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

The CJN, who faulted claim that the independence of the Judiciary has been compromised, said the arm of government was independent in its operations and decisions, but requires more funding to function effectively.

He said : “The Nigerian Judiciary, to a large extent, is independent in conducting its affairs and taking decisions on matters before it without any extraneous influence.

“At the Supreme Court, like I have always said, we are totally independent in the way we conduct our affairs, especially in our judgments.

“We don’t pander to any body’s whims and caprices. lf there is any deity to be feared, it is the Almighty God. We will never be subservient to anybody, no matter his position in the society.

“Be that as it may, when we assess the judiciary from the financial perspective, how free can we say we are? The annual budget of the Judiciary is still a far cry from what it ought to be.

“The figure is either stagnated for a long period or it goes on a progressive decline. The only thing i can do at this juncture is to plead with all concerned to let us enjoy our independence holistically.

TNG

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