The Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Thursday stressed the importance of an efficient justice delivery system in driving the much needed economic growth and development of the country.
Saraki stated this against the perceived failure of the current justice system in tackling rising crime waves associated with globalization, technology and general changes in the society.
He was speaking at the first ever National Summit on Justice, organised by the Federal Ministry of Justice to present a common front by all stakeholders in confronting the challenges in the justice sector.
The Senate President, who was represented by Senator David Umoru from Niger state, emphasised that an efficient justice system would not only bring about economic growth and development but would also attract investors as people he said would only put their money in a place where the justice system is functional and all citizens equal before the law irrespective of their standing in the society.
He said, “Efficient justice delivery is also central to the nation’s economic growth, development and the socio-economic well-being of citizens. Investors will only put their money in a place where there is a functional judicial system and where every citizen is governed in equal measures by the rule of law.
While commending the Justice Ministry for the initiative, he called for the institutionalization of judicial reforms in order to restore the peoples confidence in the nation’s justice system, adding that effort should be made at avoiding unnecessary litigations.
“The success of an effectual judicial system is measured not only by the number of cases that it manages to dispose of but also more important by the amount of litigation which is avoided because the rights and obligations of parties are ascertainable in advance, he said.
While identifying access to justice as one of the major challenge in the justice system, the Senate President however, pledged the commitment of the legislature in partnering with relevant stakeholders in the justice sector in making the justice system simpler and faster.
“We have in our ongoing constitutional amendment process, ensured that most submissions from the judiciary aiming to strengthen the justice systems were effectively considered”, he said.
He added that the NASS in recent times have passed a number of bills which according to him, were very important in strengthening the war against corruption, adding that in no distant time it will consider and pass into law the Proceeds of Crime Bill.
In a welcome, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), noted that the policy provides the needed professional guidance for all justice sector institutions in the discharge of their duties and attainment of an effective and efficient administration of justice.
Malami, who was represented by the Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Taiwo Abidogun, added that the policy has set out agreed principles and guidelines for effective and efficient service delivery.
“The policy provides the framework for resolving cross institutional problems developing and managing an all inclusive reforms as well as coordinate the implementation of reforms,” he stated.
On his part, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen who was represented by Justice Mary Odili, harped on the need to streamline the rules of procedure in the courts in an effort to reduce delays in the disposal of cases, stressing that justice delayed is justice denied.
He expressed hope that the policy will achieve its goal of ” building consensus among justice sector institutions for the purpose of addressing collectively the major challenges facing the justice delivery.”
The National Policy on Justice which was adopted at the summit aims at correcting decays such as delays, lack of public confidence in justice delivery system and access to court among other noticeable challenges militating against justice delivery in the country.