Few months to the 2023 general elections, the Federal Government has not released the funds to prosecute the 2023 general election petition tribunals across the country.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, who disclosed this on Monday in Abuja while speaking at the annual legal year ceremony of the court said funds need to be released to enable adequate preparation.
She said: “The essential ingredient for the tribunals to function effectively to maximum capacity is the provision of the much-needed funding to provide adequate facilities for the tribunals across the nation.”
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The Court of Appeal President said she is worried about the non-release of funds as it may impede plans to constitute the various election petition tribunals and courts and added also that the process of training of Justices, Tribunal Judges and registry staff is also on hold pending release of funds by the federal government.
While pointing out that the existing tribunals have taken up a whole chunk of the very limited resources of the court, Justice Dongban-Mensem called on the relevant authorities to ensure that funds for the running of the tribunals are released urgently.
Meanwhile, the President of the Appeal Court, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem on Monday said the court received 6, 017 appeals from 20 divisions in the 2021/2022 legal year.
She said also, that 13,896 motions were filed out of which 8,018 were disposed of.
The president of the appellate court also said the court determined 5,188 appeals.
”A Total of 3, 951 of these appeals were dismissed while 1,237 were allowed; out of this, the number of pending appeals as August 31, 2022 are 34,037.
”By comparison, in the 2020/2021 legal year, a total of 5,092 appeals and 9,249 motions were filed at the various divisions of the court.
”During this time, the court disposed of 7,492 motions and 3,111 appeals respectively” she said.
She craved maximum co-operation from the Bar.
She added that the need for cooperation and support from the Bar is necessary to build a judiciary on the tenets of the central pillars of justice.
”We must bear in mind that the legal profession is the very foundation holding the social, economic and political cohesion of Nigeria.
”I therefore, call upon the Bar to be the guardians of the law and legality, shunning sharp practices and filling frivolous futile and speculative appeals.
”Legal practitioners must be conscious of the rules of professional conduct and shun all unethical, corrupt and insidious practices that can bring disrepute to the noble profession” she said.
Also speaking, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the federal government has begun a process to improve the welfare judges.
Malami noted that the ongoing process of improving the welfare package of the judicial officers will be completed, in accordance with extant constitutional and statutory provisions.
”The available appropriation figures also bear testament to the fact of a progressively upward review of annual budgetary appropriation to the judiciary under President Buhari.
”The budget for the Judiciary declined from N95 billion in 2010 to N68 billion in 2014, there was an upward swing in 2015 from N73 billion to N120 billion in 2022 being the highest in the history of the judiciary.
”The government also makes special budgetary provision to cater for special assignments associated with national elections.
“The federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will not rest on its oars in the quest for increased funding for the judiciary,” he said.
Similarly, the new president of the Nigerian Bar Association is Yakubu Maikyau, said the nation is faced with challenges, due to the near absence of justice.
”Our Nation is plagued by several challenges; insecurity, economic crisis, political instability and corruption.
“These are clear manifestations of the absence of justice in the society.
”The legal profession (the Bench and the Bar) has been rendered incapable of dispensing what is otherwise it’s primary responsibility to the people: the promotion of the rule of law to serve the cause of justice.
“It is therefore, not surprising that now more than ever, the people of Nigeria look up to the legal profession for recovery, reformation and repositioning of this nation which; they understand can only happen through a deliberate pursuit of justice and must be led by the legal the legal profession” he said.