• ‘It takes five years to get justice in Rivers high court’
A national ranking to measure the speed of justice delivery at states high courts has ranked Rivers State as the slowest in justice delivery, as it takes at least five years to get justice in its high court.
The report revealed that it takes an average of 1,731 days to get justice in Rivers State, while in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, it takes about 1,431 days, Anambra (1, 206 days), Nasarawa (1,044 days), Akwa Ibom (1,023 days) and Lagos (917days).
Borno State, however, topped the table on speedy justice delivery with 206 days or six months, followed by Kastina (229 days), Kebbi (365 days), Gombe (366 days), Kogi (381 days) and Ondo (414 days).
Although the Criminal Justice Act 2015 stipulated 180 days window from filling of the court process to judgment delivery, Borno State, considered the fastest on justice delivery, still takes about seven months.
The findings carried out by Citizens Gavel, a Non-Governmental Organisation funded by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), also observed that Imo State has the highest number of cases per judge with about 444 cases per judge and ranked 26th while Adamawa, which has the lowest cases per judge, ranked seventh.
Team Lead of Citizen Gavel, Nelson Olanipekun, said at the public presentation of the report yesterday in Abuja that although the number of judges contributed to the slow pace of justice delivery, the policy change was an important factor to increase the pace.
He said not only should the number of judges be increased, but technology and all relevant laws like the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACTA) should also be implemented in all facets beginning from arraignment to final judgment and even appeal stage, such that accountability could be entrenched in the judicial system.
Olanipekun noted that the ranking was not intended to discredit any state High Court but to help each state know their assessment.
“Our intention is to see improvement in the speed of justice delivery in Nigeria. We and our partners are committed to helping states improve the pace of their justice delivery process through required support, especially through technologies,” he stated.
Representative of OSIWA, Chioma Okoye, pointed out that the report showed that access to justice does not guarantee access to remedies, adding that even the fastest state that takes 205 days was a long time to get justice.
She added that the report would be used to better engage the judiciary and ensure that justice and remedies are done in a faster way, saying Nigeria could not claim to be a democratic society without timely access to justice.
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