Tordue Salem – Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary said on Monday it would push to restrict certain cases from getting to the Supreme Court.
Extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, allow for most cases, from civil to criminal, to go all the way, to the Supreme Court.
But the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Hon. Onofiok Luke, said at the inaugural meeting of the Committee on Monday they will work to curtail the workload of the Supreme Court.
The Committee also promised to stamp the independence of the Judiciary through legislative reforms.
He said: “Cognizant of the all-important role of the judiciary, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 in section 6 established the judiciary, made it independent and conferred the courts with judicial powers. The power so conferred extends, inter alia, to all matters between persons and government, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.
“These powers enable the court to dispense justice, protect the rights and obligations of citizens and government, safeguard against legislative and executive excesses, guard and preserve the constitution, check against the arbitrary exercise of powers by government officials and maintain the rule of law, etc.
“From this background, the role of oversight the judiciary entrusted to us is an enormous task. The enormity of the task is more demanding and pronounced in a developing democracy like ours where the independence and operations of our judiciary is constantly under attack.
“The slow pace of justice delivery and a backlog of matters is a cause for concern. Some matters spend a minimum lifespan of 10 years before their final adjudication at the apex court – Supreme Court. Part of this problem is that our legal system allows all matters to travel to the Supreme Court without limit. Not all matters should merit the attention of the apex court. In developed democracies like the United States, only constitutional and important matters reach the Supreme Court. General matters are handled by trial and appellate courts based on the precedents set by the Supreme Court. We will have to reconsider our laws to ensure that we do not overburden the Supreme Court, hence slowing down the pace of justice.”