By Taiye Agbaje
The Federal High Court (FHC) will on Thursday mark 50 years of justice delivery in the Nigerian judicial system.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that FHC, which was established on April 13, 1973, was formerly known as Federal Revenue Court.
It was established by the Federal Revenue Act 1973 (1973 No.13) and began with four judges with a president as its head.
The court was, however, renamed the “Federal High Court”
by Section 228 (1) and 230 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979.
While Honourable Justice S.O. Lambo was the first president of Federal Revenue Court and served between 1973 and 1975, Justice John Tsoho is the 10th and current Chief Judge of FHC.
The court, which had grown structurally over the years, presently has divisions in all the states of the federation, including Abuja, where its headquarters is located.
The FHC, as part of its drive for capacity and human development, recently launched an electronic filing platform.
An Abuja-base legal practitioner, Yunusa Ibrahim, described the 50 years of FHC in the justice delivery as a milestone in the administration of justice.
He said the court had contributed in no small measure to justice delivery through its several judgments and decisions.
According to Ibrahim, to facilitate the expeditious determination of civil cases and matters before the court, the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2000 was enacted by Justice Tsoho pursuant to Section 254 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He said the rules had several innovative provisions for a just and expeditious disposition of cases.
Besides, Josephine Ijekhuemen, also a legal practitioner, said the importance of the court in Nigerian judiciary cannot be over-emphasised.
She said due to its indispensable role, the new Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022, conferred additional jurisdiction on the FHC to hear and determine pre-rlection complaints.
Justice Tsoho, while delivering a speech at a special court session to mark the commencement of the court’s 2022/2023 Legal Year on Dec. 12, 2022, said in response to the enormous time-bound responsibility by the new Electoral Act, he constituted a special task force of judges for the swift disposal of pre-election matters.
Bearing in mind that Section 285 (10) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that pre-election cases must be concluded within 180 days from the date of filing of the suit, the CJ drafted judges from their substantive bases to help complete all pre-election cases in other judicial divisions that had a glut of these cases ahead of the 2023 general elections.
He, therefore, commended the judges for their resilience and sheer determination to deliver justice within the time frame.
He also thanked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, for approving an emergency fund to support the court in the assignment.
Tsoho, during one of the programmes for the 2022/2023 Legal Year, assured judges and staff of better welfare package.
The CJ said though the court had 76 judges across all its divisions nationwide, efforts would be made to recruit more judges.
He said the process for the appointment of judges to the Bench of the court would also be based on competence and merit.
According to him, only persons with intellectual ability with broad and sound knowledge would be considered for appointment to the Federal High Court Bench.
Justice Tsoho urged the judges to always discharge their duties with the fear of God.(NAN)