The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad has appealed to the Senate for adequate funding to meet judicial functions.
Mr Muhammad made the appeal when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters paid him a courtesy call on Friday.
The CJN said that the Supreme Court of Nigeria as one of the busiest apex court in the world needed more funding to perform optimally.
He explained that the whole amount allocated to the federal judiciary may not be even up to half of the amount allocated to one ministry.
“We have the Supreme Court and the court of appeal, and the court of appeal is having a lot of divisions including the federal high court and national industrial court.
“We need more funding as we also appoint supporting staff and we have justices and judges,” he stated.
He further said that except there was adequate funding to carter for the judiciary, a lot would be missing.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria sits on daily basis including Fridays like a Magistrate Court.
“Mainly on Fridays we deliver judgments and rulings throughout the year except when we find that we can conveniently go on vacation.
“This year we did not even go for vacation this is because of the political cases which are time bound.
“We have never allowed any to lapse because we take it seriously.
“We take it a responsibility and a duty that whatever amount of cases we have we will never allow anyone to lapse.
“Believe me, many of us do not sleep for the recommended 12 hours by stress managers.
“We don’t write judgement merely by stating that so, so, so and so cases were filed by this and that, and end it up by saying appeal is hereby dismissed or upheld.
“We have to give reasons which are the bedrock of judgement writing. If I’m to sleep for 12 hours a lot of cases will suffer,” Mr Muhammad said.
He also asked the committee to amend appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as contained in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) so that not all appeals (cases) terminate in the apex court.
The CJN said that the number of appeals pending in the court and those received so far this year were mind-boggling.
“One of our appeals is that we would like to if and wherever it is possible for the amendment to the Constitution. We will urge you please to take a look at the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,” he said.
In his remark, chairman of the committee Sen. Michael Bamidele said both the Senate Standing Orders 2015 and the 1999 Constitution empowered the committee to oversight the Federal Judiciary.
He said as a matter of tradition, the Committee usually paid the CJN, as the Head of the Judicial Arm of Government, a courtesy call.
‘’We are here today to keep faith with the time-honoured tradition of the committee’’.
The committee chairman noted that the judiciary played a very crucial role in the sustenance and deepening of democratic core values of a nation.
He said that the committee would make necessary interventions to strengthen and guarantee the independence of the Judiciary.
He added that the committee would make appropriate legislative interventions to ensure proper funding for the Judiciary.
He said the Committee would work in collaboration with the Judiciary to review laws and embark on reforms – including amendment to the Constitution – to ensure effective and efficient administration of justice.”
Similarly, the committee visited the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa who also asked the senators to intervene in the poor funding of the judiciary.
According to her most of their buildings are collapsing and in a dilapidated state in the 16 divisions of the Court of Appeal.