PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari
has directed governors and state
chief judges to release prisoners who
are unnecessarily detained as part of
reforms in judiciary.
Buhari handed the directives in
Abuja yesterday at the opening of the
2017 All Nigerian Judges Conference of
Superior Courts.
The president, who handed same
directive to the states last month,
explained that over-crowding prisons
and some other noticeable problems in
judiciary had caused loss of confidence
in the system.
The theme of the conference,
‘Strengthening Judicial Integrity
and the Rule of Law,’ was apt at the
time of consolidating and sustaining
democracy.
He said that the public expected
fairness, impartiality and speed in the
administration of justice.
“Regrettably court cases can drag
on for years and years, sometimes
decades without resolution. I need
only mention land cases in Lagos to
illustrate my point.’’ He said that there were huge
backlogs of cases waiting to be
dispensed especially at the Appellate
levels.
“Reform of the judiciary should start
at eliminating these seemingly endless
delays in settling what to the layman
apparently simple cases are.
“Again, litigants expect that higher
courts should endeavour to harmonize
their rulings. There are contradictory
decisions of superior courts on the
same subject matter in cases where
facts are substantially the same without
a clear attempt in subsequent cases to
distinguish the earlier cases. This lack
of clarity leads to serious confusion to
the lower courts.”
He urged the judges to pay close
attention to efforts at reforming the
system.
“A democratic system such as ours
cannot survive or prosper without
strict adherence to the Rule of Law.
“My Lords, distinguished delegates,
the prime purpose of any government
is to regulate social relations within its
territorial jurisdiction. Without the rule
of law the government will degenerate
into dictatorship or anarchy,” he said.

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