Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, urged the federal government to establish a special intervention fund on Monday to assist in addressing the difficulties the judiciary is now facing.
The call was made by Hon. Luke, who is the representative for the Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, at the start of the National Judicial Institute Abuja’s conference of all Nigerian judges from lower courts, including magistrates and judges of Sharia/Area/Customary Courts.
Even though the budgetary allocation for the judiciary had increased, the Hon. Luke stated that with a special intervention fund, the problems facing the nation’s judiciary would have been minimized to the bare minimum.
“I have been advocating for what we call a special intervention fund for the judiciary.
“We have intervention funds for Agriculture, Youths, Entertainment, ICT etc. So, there is nothing wrong with intervention fund for the judiciary. “We have a whole lot of infrastructure to fix, many of our judicial officers are still writing in longhand. There is need for us to do a complete retrofitting of court especially as the court is now sitting virtually.”
The salaries, emoluments and entitlements of judicial officers have always been a source of concern because of legal limitations.
“The law dealing with their salaries also deal with Certain Political Officers’ Salaries, Emoluments Act, 2007. Fourteen years after, there has been no review of the Act” Hon. Luke said.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola told the participants that contrary to the popular belief that the role of the judiciary is merely the interpretation of law and adjudicating disputes, the judiciary, he said, is in fact a bastion of hope and order in the society.
The CJN reminded the participants that the judiciary plays a vital role in ensuring that the nation does not plunge into a state of anarchy.
Justice Ariwoola, represented by Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court, noted that the theme of the workshop, “ENHANCING THE ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY IN NATION BUILDING” was most ideal and well thought out, as it serves as a conscious reminder of the crucial role played by the Judiciary in the development and growth of the nation.
“While synergies between all three arms of government cannot be dispensed with in nation building, of equal importance is the need to strengthen synergies within each arm, since a house divided against itself cannot stand. “Consequently, the Judiciary must, at all times present a united front as our collective efforts are required in achieving the desired goal” the CJN said.
Earlier in his address, the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute, Justice Salisu Garba said since the inception of the Institute, “this biennial event has represented a platform for Judges of the Lower Courts to review and assess the state of the Judiciary and proffer solutions to the many challenges being faced in the discharge of their duties.
“In addition, this forum has created opportunities for knowledge sharing, cross fertilization of ideas and capacity building” Justice Garba said.