Bill for Faster Dispensation of Justice Scales Second Reading

Femi Gbajabiamila

Bill for Faster Dispensation of Justice Scales Second Reading

The House of Representatives yesterday moved a step towards speedy dispensation of justice in criminal and civil cases in the country.

It passed for second reading a Bill that will fix time limit for the adjudication of criminal and civil cases in the country.

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The Bill, sponsored by Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom), seeks to amend the 1999 Constitution to provide that both criminal and civil cases should be dispensed with within a period of 270 days, or nine months, from the date the case is filed.

Seeking the support of his colleagues for the passage of the Bill, Luke said: “This Bill seeks to set time within which civil and criminal causes and matters are heard and determined at trial and appellate courts in order to eliminate unnecessary delay in justice administration and delivery.”

He added: “The pace of justice delivery in Nigeria is alarmingly slow. On the average, cases stay a minimum of five to 15 years before determination and judgment. This snail-like pace of justice delivery has caused discomfort, inconveniences and hopelessness to litigants, investors, citizens and businesses.

“People only know the date they approach the court but do not know when their matters will get determined. The inability of judicial system to deliver justice to the people within reasonable time has occasioned grave frustration on the part of the people and has caused them to resort to self-help: fast means of obtaining remedy and justice.

“For instance, most Nigerians prefer using the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to settle dispute owing to the fear that if such dispute lands in a court of law, it will take years before it is settled. The disadvantages of delay in justice delivery cannot be overstated. Slow justice delivery stands as a stumbling block to Nigeria’s industrialisation drive and foreign investment.

“Speedy justice delivery bolsters economic development by improving the enforceability of contracts, settlement of disputes, etc. It guarantees enforcement of fundamental rights, stabilises the polity and minimises chaos, reduces resort to self-help and boosts people confidence in the government.”

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