Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecutions, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, has claimed that lawyers from Kenya are far better than their Nigerian counterparts.
He said the Nigerian judiciary system was so weak that a case he filed at the Supreme Court 10 years ago was yet to be assigned a date for hearing due to corruption and inefficiency.
He said lawyers and litigants “pay through their noses” to have cases assigned or court papers served.
The judiciary, he said, was averse to reform and should learn from the Kenyan example where every stakeholder worked towards an efficient justice system.
Obono-Obla, in a statement, said: “Why is the judicial system in Nigeria adverse to change? Look at Kenya and how it has reformed its own system!
“See how effective and efficient the judiciary in Kenya! See how audacious, bold, courageous and fearless Judges in Kenya are!
“See how an election petition was heard within dispatch just three weeks after it was filed! See how lawyers work together with the bench to deliver a landmark judgment.
“In Nigeria lawyers would devise all manners of legal manoeuvrings steeped in crass legal technicalities to frustrate justice! The judgment would be leaked several weeks before delivery!”
According to him, the appellate courts were chaotic and had refused to adopt technology despite increased funding.
“Before I was given an appointment while in law practice, I have appeals I have filed in the Court of Appeal for the past six years but till now have not been heard! I also have several appeals I filed in the Supreme Court since 2007 till now no date have been given for hearing of these appeals!
“To obtain a court ruling you must pay through your nose; to obtain a certified true copy of judgment you must pay through nose; to cause a court bailiff to serve a court process you must pay through your nose!
“To get a case to be assigned after filing you must pay through your nose! Even in the Supreme Court to get an appeal to be assigned for hearing you must pay through your nose!
“The registries in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively are a study in chaos, disorderliness and confusion! They have refused to embrace Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to organize their registry in line with international best practices,” he said.
Obono-Obla said judges hate progressive lawyers who do not parley with them to institutionalise corruption.
“The judicial system is just not working! Looking at how judges are frustrating trial of corrupt politicians despite the provisions of Administrations of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA.) Section 396 (3) says matters must be heard day to day but Judges are not enforcing it.
“This government increased the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the first time in 50 years, yet no reciprocation on the part of judges to reform the system! They are not interested! Otherwise why would the judiciary allow it registry system to still remain the way it was one hundred years ago?
“Why is it not possible to get a ruling or judgment as soon is delivered? Why can’t we use ICT in filing of court processes? Why are appeals delaying in the Court of Appeal? The Court of Appeal is just a court of review; no evidence is adduced at that stage, so what is responsible for the delay?” Obono-Obla said.
He also faulted the process of judges’ appointment, saying it was not based on merit.
“The appointment of judges is a lesson or study in corruption and nepotism! To be eligible to be appointed a judge you must be well connected; you must be a crony or lackey of a senior judicial officer or a relative or son or daughter of a senior judicial officer!
“You must be seen to be a plaint or conformist or Yes man! You must be ready to hobnob or kowtow to influential senior lawyers!
“No wonder the recent survey carried out by the UNODC and National Bureau on Statistics named the judiciary and the Police as the most corrupt public institutions in Nigeria,” he said.