Justice must protect the weak against the strong – Ndarani

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By Ebere Agozie

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mohammed Ndarani, says the hallmark of justice, is to guaranty the possibility that the weak could win against the strong, even against the state itself.

Ndarani said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the law is the mechanism for reducing the level of grievance in a society.

He said that unless there is confidence in the system, both in its rules and the officials that apply them, anxiety and bitterness will continue across the nation.

“Justice delayed is justice denied’ is a legal maxim.

“It means that if legal redress or equitable relief to an injured party is available, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no remedy at all.

“It is only a truly independent judiciary that would bring the total much-sought-after transformation in the sector,’’ he said.

He said that in recent times there has been an avalanche of divergent viewpoints on how to confront the volatile matter of unacceptable delay in the dispensation of justice and the resultant fallouts.

“Nigeria is experiencing increasing demands for an improved institutional capacity to deliver effective justice.

“This demand presents a significant challenge as it reflects yawning gaps in the country’s capacity to deliver an efficient and responsive justice system’’, he told NAN.

The senior lawyer advised that judges should be encouraged to uphold the independence of the judiciary.

“The independence that seeks to ensure that judges are not subjected to pressure and influence when adjudicating matters and are free to make impartial decisions based solely on facts and law.

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“Our criminal justice system has endured prolonged delay in the administration of justice, congestion of courts, inadequate infrastructure and lack of access to justice by the poor.

“Majority of these poor cannot afford the services of lawyers, hence, the congestion of prisons with the daily influx of accused persons or suspects awaiting trial’’, he said.

The senior lawyer also said that many of the country’s laws are out-dated and out of tune with modern trends.

He said that many laws need to be revised to bring them in line with current realities, many of them now being outmoded and no longer relevant to today’s Nigeria.

He decried cases of arrest of suspects’ relatives in place of suspects, use of torture by the police to obtain confessions and alleged corruption amongst judicial officers.

Ndarani believed that with the appointment of the new Justices to the Supreme Court making a total of 21 justices by President Bola Tinubu, there should be an improvement in efficient justice delivery.

“The appointment of these justices during the tenure of Tinubu and Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, in compliance with the provision of section 230 (1) (2) B has demonstrated their commitment to the rules of law.

“Also, the recent recommendation of 86 judicial officers for appointment by the National Judicial Council (NJC) will help tackle the backlog of cases more efficiently, and ensure timely justice delivery for Nigerians.

“The appointment as required by law demonstrates the President’s commitment to strengthening the judiciary and ensuring its effectiveness and independence’’, he said.

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He equally canvassed for a substantial increment in the salary and emoluments of all the Judges across the 36 states of the federation including the FCT, as well as the judicial staff.

“This will in no small measure enhance judicial independence by fostering greater independence for the judiciary, allowing it to perform its constitutional role without undue influence, and also boost judicial morale.

“It will equally contribute to a more robust and effective judiciary, which is essential for upholding the rule of law, protecting citizens’ rights, and promoting good governance,’’ Ndarani said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Uche Anunne

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