Judiciary and the Bar: The decay in the temple of justice

Ogunsakin Mustapha
6 Min Read
Bayo Akinlade, NLS Publicity Secretary

By Bayo Akinlade 

As we approach the end of another Legal Year, I have nothing encouraging to say nor can I place my finger on any solid progress the Judiciary and the NBA has made in this 2022/2023 Legal Year; save for the proposed increases in salaries and the extension of the retirement age of judges of the superior courts… Leaving the lower courts unattended..which is a very myopic and unfortunate outcome of the independence of the judiciary movement.

My observations here will however be centered on the awkward relationship between the Bar and the Bench resulting in the run down infrastructures of our courts.

When some of my colleagues argue that it is not the responsibility of the Bar to support or even provide for our courts infrastructure, I quiver in shock because in many instances, individual legal practitioners are known to contributing, supporting and doing the very thing the NBA as an association refuses to do, acknowledge and understand.

Many do not know that providing support to the judiciary is the number one objective of NBA as stated in the NBA’s constitution…but most NBA leaders don’t care or simply haven’t read the NBA constitution.

*Let’s ask some questions here:*

1. Who are the users of the Courts?

2. Who benefits the most from a good and conducive Court environment?

3. Does a comfortable Court environment improve justice delivery?

4. Does a Court with full functionality encourage productivity?

5. Are Clients willing to pay more for legal services when they see a fully functional court environment?

Whatever our answers are to these questions; one thing is clear, if the Bar and Bench cannot cooperate to ensure that our courts are comfortable for users and managers of the courts, then we have failed the country.

In my opinion, I adjudge that the failure is more on the part of the NBA. I do not come to this conclusion likely but considering the high corruption levels in government and the challenges of financial allocations to the judiciary, the NBA should play it’s constitutional role and bridge the gap instead of paying lip service and complaining about the judiciary.


A few years ago, NBA Ikorodu Branch procured a generator and fans to support the court’s infrastructure.

Before then, the court’s generator was constantly having fault putting the judges and magistrates in very uncomfortable situations which negatively impacted on justice delivery as many cases had to be adjourned.

NBA Ikorodu Branch through it’s leaders identified that the combined value of the total financial expense of litigants, the value of the time of lawyers present in court, the value of salaries paid to court staff and judges combined outweighed any politically correct position that suggested that the Bar wasn’t to interfere or contribute to Court infrastructure. It was a no-brainer to procure a generator and fans to make the working conditions better…. And it did… Our Judges and Magistrates worked harder and better because they were comfortable.

Today; unfortunately our NBA in Ikorodu has forgotten what it means to make a difference in their workspace, our judges are the ones paying for the fuel to run the NBA generator, sometimes they pay for the diesel for the main court generator…. Should this be? Some judges and magistrates even purchase their own chairs and other basic electronic facilities like printers, computers etc….this is totally unacceptable.

The NBA will spend billions of naira on a five day conference but cannot find it necessary to invest in the welfare of it’s members by supporting our justice infrastructure.

I mean can we not see that the welfare of NBA members is tied to an improved court infrastructure?

How can we argue that it is the responsibility of government alone… If this was the case, why do we take government to court to protect people’s rights and other noble causes; afterall, we have many government funded human rights institutions, committees and agencies supposedly protecting the rights of citizens. Is it not the right of every citizen to have unfettered access to justice?

I call on NBA National, NLS, NBA Branch leaders, leaders of all religious, professional and gender based lawyer groups to reassess the conditions of the courts and work together with the Judiciary to ensure that citizens get the best out of our justice delivery system.

Enough of spending huge amounts on irrelevant parties, cocktails, retreats and law week programs that make no impact other than stroking the egos of some lawyers and which has become an opportunity to enrich some individuals.

Judges and Magistrates are Lawyers like the rest of us. The Bench is merely an appointment structure. If the judiciary is corrupt, weak, underfunded or ineffective then it’s the fault of us lawyers and by extension the fault of NBA and it’s weak, corrupt, ineffective leadership!.

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