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Court Congestion: BOSAN advocates creation of constitutional court

From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja

The perennial problemsof court congestion came to thé fore again on Monday as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho expressed worries over the number of cases pending before the court, lamenting that some judges have over 1,000 cases in their dockets.

Tsoho who gave the hint while delivering a speech at the 2022/2023 legal year ceremony of the Federal High Court in Abuja noted that the existing high-volume dockets present enormous challenges.

“The current number of judges of the court which was put at 75 according to him is still short of the constitutionally set limit of 100, assuring that though the process for the appointment of 15 more judges for the court is ongoing, “there is a crying need to speedily increase the maximum number of judges for the court,” the CJ said.

He particularly mentioned Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt Divisions of the Court as worst hit.

“Already, a total of 1, 838 pre-election cases were filed before the court, out of which 1, 285 cases were disposed of, leaving a total of 556 cases pending.

“A total number of 135, 592 cases were pending before the court at the end of the last legal year, comprising 41, 788 civil cases, 31, 832 criminal cases; 39, 799 motions and 22, 173 fundamental rights enforcement applications.

Also speaking, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, (BoSAN), has also called for the establishment of a National Constitutional Court as a way out of the logjam.

While delivering a speech on behalf of the body in Abuja, BoSAN representative, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN noted that the proposed court will be saddled with the responsibility of determining all electoral cases in the country.

Awomolo who spoke at the 2022/2023 legal year ceremony of the Federal High Court in Abuja said Nigeria has reached a stage when the Parliament, Judiciary and stakeholders in the administration of Justice should consider the establishment of the National Constitutional court of Nigeria.

He regretted that many matters, including fundamental right enforcement suits, have continued to suffer adjournments, owing to a plethora of political cases that are flooding the high court.

“The Constitutional court is one that will handle all constitutional, political and election matters. It will be a Federal Court, of the status of a High court with divisions in all the states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The Court will have unlimited jurisdiction to determine all causes as relating enforcement of or connected with interpretation of the Constitution, enforcement of fundamental rights of the citizens, determination as to whether any person has been lawfully elected into any office from the President, to the State governors and members of all the Legislative houses.

“We have enough human resources to serve the Court in all capacity. My Lords, there exists Constitutional courts in countries like India, South Africa, South Korea, Egypt, Zambia, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany, where such jurisdictions as proposed function effectively to relieve regular Courts of political cases,”

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