President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that the arrest and prosecution of judges was not meant to embarrass the judiciary.
He said this on Monday while declaring the 2017 Biennial All Nigeria Judges Conference open.
In his speech, Buhari said the prime purpose of any government is to regulate social relations within its territorial jurisdiction, noting that without the rule of law, the government will degenerate into anarchy.
He said: “For the judiciary, the public expects fairness, impartiality and speed in the administration of justice. Regrettably court cases can drag on for years and years, sometimes decades without resolution. I need only mention land cases in Lagos to illustrate my point.
“Furthermore, there are huge backlogs of cases waiting to be dispensed especially at the Appellate levels. Reform of the judiciary should start at eliminating these seemingly endless delays in settling what to the layman are apparently simple cases.
“Again, litigants expect that higher courts should endeavour to harmonize their rulings. There are contradictory decisions of superior courts on the same subject matter in cases where facts are substantially the same without a clear attempt in subsequent cases to distinguish the earlier cases. This lack of clarity leads to serious confusion to the lower courts.
The knock-on efforts of these delays and dis-continuities range from loss of confidence in the judicial system to over-crowding of prisons. This is an area Your Lordships should pay close attention to in your efforts at reforming the system.
“Last month I wrote to all State Governors urging them to make special visit to prisons in company with State Chief Judges and release prisoners unnecessarily detained without due process.
“My lords, as all of us are aware one of the objectives of this Administration is to combat graft and other forms of corruption so endemic in our public life. The executive can not achieve these objectives alone. We require the close cooperation of other arms of government.
“My lords, earlier this year the Judiciary came under investigation. Let me again assure the judicial community, this action taken by the Executive was in no way a prelude to usurping the powers of the National Judicial Council or aimed at intimidating the Judiciary as wrongly portrayed in some sections of the media. Executive and legislative officials were also investigated
I am aware that the majority of judicial officers are learned and incorruptible and day in day out acting in the best spirit of their oath of office. I am quite aware of the problems besetting the Judiciary including under-funding, inadequate personnel and absence of modern technological aids.
“Bearing these in mind, this Administration increased allocation to the Judiciary from N70 billion to N100 billion in the 2017 Budget. A similar figure has been proposed for 2018.”