The Director General of Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Prof. Epiphany Azinge, yesterday identified low budgetary allocation, corruption, impunity, lack of efficiency among judicial officers and law enforcement agents, lack of synergy and lack of accountability as the major challenges bedevilling the judiciary in its effort to ensuring efficient administration of justice system in the country.
Azinge spoke during the Benin-city chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2014 Annual Law week with the theme: ‘The Nigerian State in the Aftermath of the Centenary:The role of the Bar and Bench-Challenges in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria’ in Benin-city, Edo State capital.
Delivering a keynote address, Azinge also stated that lack of synergy among institutions that make up the justice system of in the country, coupled with the issue of appropriateness of existing frame work for the administration of justice has hindered the performance of Nigeria’s justice system stressing that these factors pose severe challenges to the administration of justice in the country.
“It is important that institutions comprising the justice system of Nigeria always work together towards achieving the ends of justice. At the moment, this is an ideal that is largely missing in the country. What obtains is a situation where the various institutions in the justice system engage in unhealthy rivalry, viewing each other as opponents rather than partners in the discharge of responsibilities. In the atmosphere of such institutional rivalry, it is certain that no serious progress can be achieved in the administration of justice,” he said.
While lamenting the low budgetary allocation which he noted constituted the major constraint of the judiciary in carrying out its functions, Azinge said: “Given the significant role played by the courts in the administration of justice, it is very important that they are properly funded. The position, however, is that many courts face infrastructural challenges which hamper their activities. The inadequacy of the courts and judicial personnel derive from the low allocation to the judiciary and has been identified as partly responsible for delay in the administration of justice in the country.”
However, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Augustine Alegeh, said inadequate fund was not entirely responsible for the delay but application of funds by the judicial officers.
Alegeh, who applauded the role played by the federal government in funding the judiciary, however, called on the “National Judicial Commission(NJC) to live up to expectation by applying the funds given to them judiciously, so that it will not be all motion without movement.”
In his remark, the state Chief Judge, Justice Cromwell Idahosa, pledged his unalloyed support to the overall development of the judiciary in the state saying: “On our part, the judiciary shall continue to give the maximum support to the Bar and do all that is needful to create a conducive atmosphere for lawyers in the state to have a successful legal practice.”
Prominent members of the Bar, including Alegeh, Omoruyi .A.Omonuwa (SAN), Okeaya-Inneh, Chief Evbuobamien (SAN) were conferred with the Benin NBA Merit Award, while the Benin monarch and the state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, were conferred with Association’s Lifetime Achievers Award.