Abuja - President Muhammadu Buhari on
Monday charged the judiciary to do its best possible to fight against real and
perceived corrupt practices within the judicial system.
The President gave the charge in Abuja while opening the
2015 All Nigerian Judges’ Conference with the theme: `The Judiciary as a
Veritable Instrument for Sustaining Democracy in Nigeria’.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President
said that the judiciary should also improve its capacity to act independently,
courageously, and tirelessly.
"May I most especially urge that the Nigerian judiciary
must do all that is possible to fight against the perception and the reality of
growing judicial corruption.
"As an institution dedicated to the promotion and
protection of human rights, the judiciary must go the extra mile to sanitise itself
and improve its capacity to act independently, courageously and tirelessly.
"Further on the point of negative perception, there is both
local and international dissatisfaction of the long delays in the trial
"In the past few years this has become especially so for
high profile cases of corruption, especially where they involve serving or
former political office holders.’’
Buhari said that corruption, in whatever form transferred
from public, coffered to private pockets resources needed for the provision of
social and economic justice to the people.
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He noted that government’s attempts to recover loots were
often met with delayed tactics by lawyers in the trial process, thus denying
the state and the accused person the opportunity of judicial verdict.
According to him such attitude must not continue.
He said that the reasons for such delays or outright
inaction were at times beyond the courts and in several cases "consequences of
shoddy investigation, out-moded rules of procedure, poor prosecution or
unprofessional practices of counsel’’.
He said that judicial reform must take into consideration
the clean-up of the systems and processes in all the courts handling cases
involving the poor to portray the courts as humane and efficient.
Buhari said that the ability to enforce contractual
obligations and resolve disputes would inform the decision of potential local
and international investors about where to invest on.
"Delay in judicial processes has caused the economy dearly
in terms of much needed investment as investors prefer other jurisdictions
where the progress of court cases is much more predictable and in accordance
with the rule of law,’’ he said.
According to him, this is a big disincentive to business as
judicial delays have damaged the international reputation of the country’s
The President, who said that the judiciary had performed
well in the past, also advised people to always bear in mind that the
administration of justice is the foundation of genuine democracy.
Buhari observed that Nigeria’s Supreme Court was one of the
busiest in the world, but said that the court should be allowed to focus on key
He said that it was not necessary to appeal interlocutory
matters up to the Supreme Court.
The President also advised judges to be courageous and not
to hesitate in sanctioning lawyers and litigants, who deliberately delayed
He also enjoined the judiciary to revisit previous reform
panels of its experts help improve the legal practice.
Buhari said the present administration is committed to the
financial independence of the judiciary in accordance with extant laws and must
be treated fairly as the executive and the legislative.
He, however, observed that judicial transparency and accountability
in the use of funds, procurement, and auditing should be sacrosanct.
The President said that government must be forward-looking
in providing for the comfort of the judges.
He expressed the hope that deliberations at the conference
would lift the country out of many of the social problems it is experiencing.