By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi, yesterday cautioned public, especially lawyers and judges on the existence and circulation of fake Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2008 that was being circulated as authentic.
Justice Kutigi who spoke through the former Chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Umaru Eri at the on-going national conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos noted that though the judiciary has put machinery in motion to amend the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 1979, he disclosed that already some lawyers have started using the fake Rules in court.
According to him, the enforcement of the fundamental rights of Nigerians is so important that nobody or institution would want to do anything to erode it.
Justice Kutigi, who insisted that the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Rules) 1979 still subsists as rules of the court, added that the fake document titled, â€œConstitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2008 should be ignored.
According to the CJN, the said fake document is being offered for sale and cited in courts by legal practitioners, especially those who are unaware of the development.
Though he emphasized that he had received complaints about the inadequacy of the 1979 Rules, he also said that he had received a proposal for amendment of the rules from the NBA in collaboration with a non-governmental organisation, Access to Justice.
Kutigi further disclosed that he had set up a committee of Heads of Courts to examine the recommendations for review of these rules, adding that the committee was expected to submit the report to him in couple of weeks.
He said, â€œThe 1979 Rules are still the ones in use. I need to stress this point because my attention has been drawn to a printed document tilted the â€œConstitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedures) Rules, 2008.â€
â€œUnfortunately, this document is being offered fore sale and is passed off as authentic. The document is being cited before the court by some legal practitioners. Please take note that the document is not genuine. It has no authority except that of the author. It therefore is discountenanced.â€
He also said that the delay in cases suffered in courts are most time attributed to lawyers and other stakeholders in the justice delivery system. He therefore called on the lawyers to also review their legal practice and processes and avoid actions on their part that would cause delay in trial of cases in court by adopting case management strategies which are in accord with the resources available to them.