Nigeria’s judiciary stakeholders have called for a total reform of the nation’s judiciary in order to make it more accountable and responsive in the dispensation of justice to the citizenry, for overall national development.
This is contained in a communiqué issued in Abuja on Thursday at the end of the second edition of Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) Annual Colloquium held in Abuja.
The theme of the Colloquium is: “Accountability and Integrity as Pillars of National Development”.
The legal luminaries stressed the need for a total reform of the judiciary, which is already in progress, as the last hope of the common man.
The participants resolved that the reforms should be made to ensure that aggrieved citizens must not be compromised at any tier of government in order to make the judiciary enjoy and sustain public confidence and trust in the performance of its constitutional roles.
According to them, the judiciary’s financial autonomy must be enforced in the new reform being sought for the judiciary.
They reiterated the call for the judiciary’s financial autonomy, which must be asserted and enforced in compliance with the provision’s of the Constitutional, in order to sustain its integrity and freedom from undue influence and interference from other arms of the government.
The participants also demanded for reforms in the practice of law profession in the country,which they argued, must be tailored to enhance the integrity of the practitioners.
According to them, the process of building integrity in the law profession must be total, while re-orientation must be in-depth, in order to ensure that lawyers become models for integrity and accountability in the society.
The communiqué read in part:
“That the judiciary must be totally reformed and be made to be more accountable. The need for judicial financial autonomy cannot be over-emphasized.
“There is a need for a total reform in the manner of practice of law by legal practitioners. The process of building integrity in the profession has to be total and re-orientation must be in-depth in order to ensure that the lawyer becomes a model for integrity and accountability in the society.
“There is an urgent need to address leadership values. It must be stated that no leader comes from the moon. Every leader is a product of his or her society. A force of personal example in ensuring transparency and integrity as we presently have should be encouraged.
“There has to be a virtual reduction in the cost of governance. There has to be a continuous strategy through which enterprise, innovation and skills are the major job providers.
“The place of effective law enforcement for the wellbeing and good order of the society is one that should be consciously pursued by governments at all levels. The need to increase the appropriations to the various integrity agencies and plough finance into programmes and effective implementation of objectives must be carried out.
“Accountability must begin with the government and the governed and should be built on the social contract theory and, therefore, should not be a one-way traffic as integrity does not mean what is morally right but doing what you say.
“Citizens should demand that leaders justify their actions and should sanction them when they fail to meet expectations, elect people of integrity who are accountable and transparent while government institutions should be more open in their systems so that the people should know what their leaders are doing.’’
The communiqué commended the organizers of the colloquium for their concern for the upliftment of the nation and called on other well meaning Nigerians and institutions to emulate them in other to make the country a better place.
In attendance at the Colloquium were Justice Cletus Nweze of the Supreme Court, who stood in for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Muhammed; Justice Ibrahim Tanko, also of the of the Supreme Court, who chaired the occasion; and the Chief Judge of the FCT Judiciary, Justice Ishaq Bello.
Others included Professors of Law, Chidi Odinkalu, Bolaji Owasanoye, and Awa Kalu (SAN); Dr Akin Onigbinde, Mr Ekpo Nta, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC; and Dr Mrs Sarah Alade, Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Central Bank of Nigeria, among many others.