The Nation (Nigeria)
Akinseye-george tasks govt on improved welfare for judicial officers
ASenior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Professor of Law, Yemi Akinseye-george, has urged the Federal Government to work on ways to urgently improve the welfare and work conditions of judges.
Akinseye-george, who argued that the Judiciary would only effectively discharge its constitutional responsibilities where the salaries, allowances and retirement benefits of judicial officers were adequate, advocated a collaboration between the Fed Govt and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to provide befitting retirement houses for all judges.
“This can be achieved not only by providing more resources but also through improved oversight, better management and greater accountability for the use of resources allocated to the judiciary. The NJC must put in place measures to improve transparency and prudence in the allocation and use of scarce resources.
“The anomaly of providing a retirement house worth over N1billion for each Chief Justice of Nigeria at the retiring age of 70 years whilst no provision is made for the remaining Justices of the court and other judges must be urgently corrected,” Akinseye-george said.
He spoke in Abuja at a workshop on the proposed National Minimum Standard (NMS) for the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJA/ACJLS) held on June 29.
Commending the government for the increase in the number of judges at all court levels, Akinseye-george, who is the President, Centre for Socio-legal Studies (CSLS), urged the Judiciary to ensure a partial observance of this year’s annual long vacation in view of the disruptive effect of the recent two-month strike by court workers on court activities.
“The increases in the number of judges and justices may not bring about significant improvement in justice delivery unless the 2021 annual vacation of courts is staggered. We, therefore, recommend that only about 50 per cent of the courts should proceed on the usual annual vacation this July, while the remaining 50 per cent should remain at work and only proceed on vacation when the first 50 per cent on vacation have returned to work.
“By so doing, normalcy would quickly return to the system and the losses caused by the JUSUN strike would be recovered before the next Annual Vacation in July 2022.”
The silk urged the National Assembly to disregard the proposal seeking to expand the scope of Islamic Law beyond its current personal application.
He said: “We have already made our views known on the attempt to enlarge the scope of Islamic Law beyond the current provisions of sections 262 and 277 of the Constitution which clearly provides for the application of Islamic personal law to civil proceedings. In our considered view, there is no justification to delete the word ‘personal’ from the phrase Islamic Personal Law.
“The National Assembly should not create further confusion in the polity by tampering with the secular character of the Constitution. The right of all Nigerians to freedom of worship and freedom from discrimination must remain sacrosanct.”
Akinseye-george advised Akwa Ibom, Borno, Niger, Taraba and Zamfara states that have not enacted the ACJL to urgently do so and for Lagos State House of Assembly to fast tract the ongoing review of its ACJL 2011.
He explained that the event was to provide an update on efforts towards the establishment of the proposed National Minimum Standards (NMS) for the implementation of the ACJA/ACJL and to receive further inputs from fellow cohort members and other stakeholders into the NMS process.
The workshop, he added, was also meant for stakeholders to discuss the various amendments proposed to the ACJA 2015 and for the recognition of a member of House of Representatives (representing Etinan/ Nsit Ibom/nsit Ubium Federal Constituency), Onofiok Luke for his proactive legislative work and unrelenting advocacy in the House for the reform of criminal justice administration in the country.”