24th June 2022 | 2:20PM

Paschal Emeka, Abuja

The House of Representatives has resolved to intervene into the crisis rocking the judicial arm of government with a view to address what they described as the deteriorating working conditions of Judicial Officers

 Hon. Onofiok Akpan Luke, Honorable Member Representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State in a motion of urgent public importance informed his colleagues of the various news reports of the letter written by the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the Honorable Chief Justice of Nigeria complaining about the poor welfare conditions and the operational challenges facing the apex court.

He noted that the letter specifically complained about lack of accommodation for newly appointed Justices of the Supreme Court, epileptic power supply to the courts and the justices’ residence, lack of internet services, lack of training and workshops, non-provision of legal assistants to the justices, poor healthcare delivery and unavailability of drugs at the court’s clinic, and other operational challenges, which have negatively impacted on the performance of judicial functions, thus delaying justice delivery with its attendant effect on the maintenance of law and order in the country.

Hon. Onofiok blamed the issues raised on the persistent underfunding of the judiciary despite its increasing workforce and growing responsibilities, as well as inflationary conditions in Nigeria.

 He disclosed that the remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1 whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.

Considering the critical role of the Judiciary in deciding disputes between persons, he stated that the judicial officers are under huge legal and moral responsibility to meet these demands in the face of their meager remuneration and poor working and living conditions.

He decried the acute shortage of infrastructure in the judiciary as judicial officers still record proceedings in long hand and sittings are conducted in dilapidated or unconducive court houses across the country.

He observed that some judicial officers do not have legal assistants whereas they deserve at least two legal assistants just as executive members and lawmakers have different aides.

The lawmaker further noted that the Judiciary is faced with enormous and expanding responsibilities of providing judicial services to an increasing population of 200 million people, building new courts and refurbishing the existing ones across the Federation, engagement of new judicial officers and staff, which are all for better access to effective and efficient justice delivery to the people.

He expressed concern that the Judiciary is the least funded of the three arms of government and its budgetary allocation has not increased much in the past 12 years

He warned that the poor funding of the Judiciary leaves it vulnerable to compromise and abuse, and may provide avenues for corruption, thus exposing the country to grave perils.

 Consequently, the House urged the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities and also urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the Judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide Special Intervention Funds for the development of the Judiciary.

The House mandated the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.


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