Trusted, well-resourced judiciary essential to rule of law, says Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari says a trusted, well-resourced and well-functioning Judiciary is essential to the entrenchment of rule of law.

President Buhari made this submission while declaring open the 2021 All Nigeria Judges’ Conference organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI) on Monday in Abuja.

Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said that the Judiciary remained the last hope of the common man as it exercised powers that affected lives and liberties.

He said that there was nothing more important than for judges to be trusted for honesty and integrity.

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“Men and women who have the power over the lives and livelihoods of others are not like the rest of us; we must place them on the highest scale of probity.

“I would like to urge that your Lordships must not allow a few to undermine the respect and trust both local and international that our Judiciary has built up in over a century of its existence.

“I am not unaware of the number of challenges slowing the pace of transformation in our administration of the justice system.

“ More needs to be done to strike a sound balance between a high level of productivity, the quality of judicial decisions, and careful consideration of cases.’’

The president said that his administration, through the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the National Judicial Council(NJC), had been working towards the resolution of challenges confronting the judicial system.

He said that the development of strategic infrastructure that would provide ease in case management, including electronic recording of proceedings to replace the tedious longhand recording currently practiced in the majority of our courts was underway.

“ Advancements in courtroom technology–e-Court systems–have increased the level of efficiency in the justice system in the areas of speed of documentation, accuracy, security, and accessibility of records.

“Enhanced welfare of judicial officers, especially in the area of conditions of service – salaries, allowances, and retirement benefits for Judicial Officers.

“`Provision of comprehensive medical insurance.

“On this, I wish to commend the NJI for the institution of the NJC Health Insurance Programme, which provides comprehensive international insurance for all members of the Federal Judiciary as well as comprehensive local coverage within all the states of the federation.’’

According to him, the measures in the works are aimed at standardising the courts, safeguarding the integrity of the Judiciary, and attracting the best of legal minds to the bench.

He harped on the need for the judiciary to gain public trust and confidence.

“The Judiciary remains the last hope of the common man; it exercises powers that affect lives and liberties.

“A trusted, well-resourced and well-functioning Judiciary is therefore essential to the entrenchment of rule of law.

“To maintain this revered position, and retain greater public confidence by the citizens, the Judiciary must be independent from all forms of interference and must maintain the highest level of responsiveness, professional standards, and integrity.

“ We will continue to partner with you in ensuring that the Judiciary is financially independent; and effectively and sustainably retains a preeminent position in the quality of jurists manning our courts and the jurisprudence that develops from their collective premier reasoning,’’ he said.

He appreciated the proactive stance being taken by the leadership of Judiciary and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, in tackling issues of conflicting court orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction and appointment of Judges.

In his keynote address, Muhammad said that the conference was organised biennially by the NJI as part of its statutory mandate.

According to Muhammad, the conference affords members of the bench an opportunity for sober reflection, close interaction with other judges and to arrive at resolutions that will reposition the judiciary.

Earlier in his welcome address, Justice Salisu Abdullahi, Administrator, NJI, said that the conference was a platform for stakeholders to rub minds on the administration of justice in Nigeria.

The theme of the conference is, “Promoting Judicial Excellence in the Administration of Justice.’’(NAN)

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