10 Major Problems of Judiciary in Nigeria and Possible Solutions


10 Major Problems of Judiciary in Nigeria and Possible Solutions

When one hears the word judiciary, they are immediately transported to the legal system, where judges and attorneys wear flowing robes and curly wigs on their heads.

The collective group of judges, justices, etc. is referred to as the judiciary, according to the English dictionary. That is the legal system, including support staff.

The three branches of government in Nigeria are the Executive, the Legislative, and, of course, the Judiciary, which is the focus of our discussion.

According to some, the last bastion of the common man's hope is the judiciary, a purportedly independent branch of the government. In fact, the common man suffers the most from the enduring issues with the Nigerian judiciary.

This brings to mind a discussion between a renowned judge and an English cab driver. The driver initially told the judge he did not know of any such place but eventually drove him to the "court of law" after the judge had mistakenly asked him to take him to the "court of justice".

"This is the court of law," the driver announced upon arrival. The wise judge pondered this innocent word and came to the conclusion that, despite their best efforts, justice is not always guaranteed in a court of law. Wow, how shocking!

The guardian of the law is the judicial system. In the strictest sense, a law is a set of regulations and standards of behavior that a state imposes on its citizens and then has the courts uphold.

We can thus picture the horrors that would result from a flawed judicial system.


Here are the Major 10 Problems of Judiciary in Nigeria and Possible Solutions

10 Major Problems of Judiciary in Nigeria and Possible Solutions

1. Law Enforcement Ignorance

I was curious as to why a particular family, who had won a legal battle over a land dispute and was in possession of a copy of the judgment, continued to have trouble getting on their property because it had been taken over by thugs who were land grabbing.

The family secretary informed me that the police will not uphold the court's decision if they are unable to receive substantial funding to carry out a court order, which is their constitutional duty. All signs pointed to the family being very underprivileged.

This illustrates how difficult it is for common people to obtain justice even after going through the rigors of court proceedings and finally receiving verdicts because they are unable to get the police involved.

Possible Solution:

By closely observing law enforcement officials to see if they sincerely enforce court orders without accepting bribes, the Executive and Legislature must make sure that they uphold and defend the constitution.

The guilty should be put behind bars and charged. The judiciary and the entire government will regain the public's trust as a result.

To motivate our law enforcement officers, however, good compensation and incentives should be used. Appropriate bodies must make sure that these benefits reach the officers and are not cornered or decimated by "ogas" at the top.


2. Corruption

Known for its anti-corruption campaign, the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. The judiciary's ability to successfully prosecute offenders is essential to the campaign's success. However, a corrupt judiciary would be unable to render just judgments in light of the fact that fund thieves are willing to pay billions of dollars to grease the palms of judges.

Please give us the inside scoop. The following is a quotation from Justice Walter Onnoghen, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria.

"We must not overlook the judiciary's essential function in the fight against corruption.

We cannot allow corruption to discourage us or weaken our resolve despite the fact that it continues to put the judiciary in the center of a storm. The perception that the Nigerian judiciary is plagued by corrupt elements is regrettable, which is why an image-building parade is necessary".

The aforementioned statement undoubtedly demonstrates how severely corrupted our judiciary is. However, not all judicial officials are dishonest. The rest of the judiciary is affected by the misconduct of a small number of people.

In order to eliminate this harmful threat, the general public should stop offering bribes to judicial officials.

Additionally, the givers and recipients of bribes should be subject to the full force of the law.

Possible solution:

Judiciary officials should also completely avoid any actions or statements that could undermine the judiciary's credibility and integrity.

A judiciary free from corruption will guarantee justice and fair trials in all cases, not just those involving corruption.


3. An accumulation of Pending Cases

If the information currently available about Nigeria's insufficient number of judges. Unlike in a case where there are enough judges to reduce the average workload per judge, cases will undoubtedly take longer to be resolved and verdicts passed in a court environment.

Due to the relatively small number of judges preside over so many cases at once in Nigeria today, many cases typically take too long, resulting in adjournment after adjournment.

Furthermore, criminal cases are made to drag on for years due to delay strategies and unethical behavior on the parts of both the prosecution and defense attorneys.

I once heard a renowned lawyer say that some cases—particularly those involving land and chieftaincy titles—are purposefully allowed to drag on until both parties have died of old age and, of course, natural causes.

Possible Solution:

In order to expedite the administration of justice, more judges should be appointed, and pertinent officials like court administrators should quickly report attorneys who use unethical tactics and delaying strategies to the National Judicial. For the necessary disciplinary action to be taken, NJC.

To further enhance the administration of justice, it is also imperative that the Rules of Court, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and Practice Directions be strictly followed.


4. Staffing Issues

The judiciary is currently facing its most difficult challenge yet, and it has been determined that this is the single biggest issue endangering the institution's integrity as Nigeria's center of justice.

The judiciary is made up of judges who are fallible people with human nature. Although Nigeria has many excellent, morally upright, and intellectually sound judges who uphold the highest standards of morality and integrity, a sizable portion of them fall short of the required bar, as evidenced by the inconsistent nature of many of the courts' rulings and the resulting confusion in the country's legal system.

Possible Solution:

For judges to stay current and stay on top of international standard practices, there is an urgent need for ongoing training and retraining of judicial officers in the form of workshops, seminars, and symposiums.

To make sure that only people with a suitable level of intelligence, morality, and integrity are appointed to the bench, the selection process for judicial officers needs to be changed.


5. Reaction Against Judicial Independence

Making sure that the Executive and Legislative branches of government operate within the bounds of the constitutional privileges granted to them is the judiciary's main goal.

This means that the Judiciary should be left alone to carry out its constitutionally mandated duties free from interference from the other two branches of the government. The judiciary ought to function without interference from outside forces and according to the constitutional authority granted to it.

Unfortunately, in Nigeria, the Executive, the Legislature, and even political parties have a say in court decisions.

Possible Solution:

The Executive and Legislature ought to adhere to the Constitution and refrain from interfering with judicial matters. Judges must be chosen from the bar on the recommendation of an expert group known as the Judiciary Advisory Commission. This is a requirement.

Judges should also have tenure security and only be removed for grave misconduct or ill health. Judicial officers should receive competitive pay, and neither the executive nor the legislative branch should be able to influence their compensation.

To avoid being swayed by political considerations, judges should not have any political affiliations before retiring or holding no position related to the judiciary. Life safety measures for judicial officers should be taken.


6. Lackluster Courthouses

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), former Justice Onnoghen, claims that we still have issues with housing for our judicial officers and accommodations in the courts.

Possible Solution:

Building new courts where there are none already exists, expanding existing facilities, and adding more homes should all be done as part of the judiciary's ongoing efforts to address this crucial aspect of its independence.


7. Conflicts of Interest in Judicial Cases or Disciplinary Proceedings

It has been argued numerous times that the CJN should not be appointed the head of the NJC, before which his conduct can be judged, as he is a judicial officer whose conduct is subject to the NJC (National Judicial Council).

The CJN's influence in such situations, as it has in the past, cannot be disregarded, especially in light of the fact that some NJC members owe their membership in the organization to him.

Possible Solution:

In order to prevent conflicts of interest, the membership of a body established to oversee the judiciary and judicial officers should not be predominated by judicial officers currently in office.

Therefore, to ensure objective oversight of judicial activities, the chairmanship and membership of the NJC should be predominated by retired judicial officers, with notable figures of integrity from the bar and related disciplines serving as a complement.


8. Disregarding a Court Order

As an illustration, consider how the Executive disregarded a federal high court's order upholding the independence of the judiciary. An ex-CJN, Justice Muchtar, had noted that the impunity of public office holders went beyond disregard for court rulings to levels where courts were closed as a result of political squabbles between politicians.

Even in Nigeria's current political climate, the Executive has been accused of disobeying some court orders. All of these things occur because judicial appointments must be approved by the Legislature and are made by the Executives. This, of course, encourages the judiciary to be sentimental in its rulings and gives public officials license to disobey court orders.

Possible Solution:

Judiciary independence is required, and ongoing efforts must be made to stop public officials who have repeatedly insulted the temple of justice from acting without consequence.

Every time a court order is disregarded, the traditional news media (the press) would be wise to complain. The general public ought to use social media to denounce such demeaning actions.


9. Minimal Use of Computer Technology

Justice Walter Onnoghen, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, claims that the current system of justice delivery in Nigerian courts is inefficient, time-consuming, prone to document loss or theft, and difficult to file; as a result, there is a need for an information technology-assisted justice system.

Possible Solution:

Justice will be improved by information and communication technology (ICT) by ensuring that data is accurately recorded and transmitted digitally. Court procedures will be completed and available upon request, and data exchange will not break down.

With e-justice, case management will be automated, fee payments made through dedicated websites to reduce corruption, and users will have online access to forms that simplify and streamline court proceedings.

Such steps must be taken in conjunction with investments in cyber security and increased staff capacity. (CJN Walter Onnoghen, Justice).

Although the Supreme Court has been moving toward full information technology use, all Nigerian courts still need to be ICT compliant.

To help the judiciary, more technologically savvy individuals should be hired, and a reliable power supply is obviously crucial.


10. Public Mistrust of the Judiciary

Many common people, as well as many elites, lack faith in the judicial system and only appear in court when all other options, such as enforcing their own laws, have been exhausted or when they are compelled to do so by court summons.

This is because the judiciary is dealing with a wide range of issues.

I think that by putting the above solutions into practice, public trust in the Nigerian judiciary will be restored, and more people will swiftly seek redress in the temple of justice.

 Read: Definitions, Scope and Features of Administrative Law ( in UK, US and Nigeria)

Final Thought

The judiciary branch of government is tasked with interpreting the law of the land and applying it when necessary. This puts a great deal of weight on the judiciary's crucial role in society.

The law of the land serves as the foundation upon which decisions are made, so it is crucial that its interpretation and application be carried out with the utmost care and speed.

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