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FG Pushes for More Cases to End at Appeal Court

The Federal Government on Thursday announced that it has drafted legislation aimed at ensuring that most cases in the country are concluded at the Court of Appeal.

This initiative aims to lessen the workload of the justices at the Supreme Court.

In Nigeria, apart from state legislative and National Assembly election petitions which terminate at the appellate court, all other matters such as burglary, theft, and others are finalised at the Supreme Court.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said there are draft legislations to address this and many challenges confronting the judiciary.

Other issues highlighted by the AGF are the judicial appointment process, funding and budgeting for the judiciary, and reducing time spent on the determination of cases among others.

Fagbemi said the adoption of the legislation would form the fulcrum of the National Summit on Justice beingorganised in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association and the National Judicial Council.

The event, according to him is slated for April 24 and 25, 2024.

He said, “The National Summit on Justice presents a unique opportunity to collectively tackle the pressing issues hindering the efficient, fair, and people-centered delivery of justice in our nation.

“Furthermore, the summit will deliberate on draft legislations proposed to address specific identified challenges within the justice sector, relating to the judicial appointments process, administration, funding and budgeting for the judiciary, the elimination of delays and inefficiencies in justice delivery and to evolve ways to reduce the amount of time for adjudication of cases, eliminate some of the associated technicalities, and reduce the number of cases getting to the Supreme Court.

“In this regard, we intend to look at a situation where many cases will terminate at the court of appeal to reduce the burden on our noble justices of the Supreme Court.”

He noted that the proposed law would help in achieving a people-centered justice system.

Fagbemi added, “These proposed laws are expected to serve as a catalyst for collective action and provide a guiding framework for relevant governmental institutions at both the national and sub-national levels to establish an effective, efficient, and people-centered justice system.”

Fagbemi noted that at the summit, the National Policy on Justice from 2024 to 2028 would be reviewed and adopted.

He said, “One of the summit’s goals is to review, validate, and adopt the revised National Policy on Justice 2024- 2028 to drive prison reforms, access to justice for the average Nigerian, as well as the review of electoral laws and procedures in handling election-related cases, among several other reforms.

“This comprehensive policy document outlines a broad framework and initiatives in 17 thematic areas aimed at reforming the justice sector to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility to all Nigerians, ensuring that justice is not just a privilege for the few, but a right for all.”

He, however, said a former Chief Justice of Kenya, Willy Mutunga, would deliver the summit’s keynote address.

Fagbemi said, “Notably, the summit will feature a keynote address by Dr. Willy Mutunga, EGH, a renowned legal scholar, jurist, and former Chief Justice of Kenya, celebrated for his commitment to democratic principles and human rights, and for the transformative judicial reform that took place in Kenya under his watch.”

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