Tinubu: Our justice system must guarantee well-being of citizens, econ growth

…….Declares National Summit on Justice

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has implored the nation’s Judiciary to embark on reforms that would ensure a functional justice system that will support a rapidly growing economy, guarantee basic human and political rights of individuals as well as provide security and justice to all Nigerians.

According to him, much can be achieved when institutions of government, including the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, unite to acknowledge their challenges and brainstorm with a view to profering solutions to the problems bedeviling Nigeria.

President Tinubu gave the charge on Wednesday when he declared open the National Summit on Justice, 2024, held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.

The President who was represented at the event by Vice President Kashim Shettima, urged the judiciary to align its activities within the tenets of his administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda, particularly as they relate “to the priorities on inclusivity, fairness, rule of law, and anti-corruption stance, among other things”.

Noting that his administration had pledged to be impartial and adhere to constitutional principles, Tinubu said the Summit availed institutions in the justice sector “with an opportunity to push boundaries by identifying needed system changes and critical reforms that would allow Nigerians to reap the benefits of huge investments in the sector.”

Delivering the President’s address at the event, VP Shettima explained that the federal government is determined to implement its policies and promises made to Nigerians for a renewed hope, through the instrumentality of the “law and the dictates of justice to create opportunities for our people”.

Outlining the preliminary measures he took in order to reposition the Judiciary in the bid to support a just and rules-based Nigeria, President Tinubu recalled that his administration made funding for the third arm of government a top priority, doubling it in the Renewed Hope budget 2024 by more that 100 per cent from last year’s budget.

He listed other efforts his government has made to reposition the Judiciary to include full complement of 21 Justices of the Supreme Court as required by law for the first time after many years, and his approval of “a substantial increase in the salaries and emoluments of judges, which is currently undergoing legislative action.”

The President noted however that despite progress being made in the justice sector, there “is an urgent need for a functional justice system capable of supporting a rapidly growing economy, guaranteeing basic human and political rights of individuals, and providing security and justice to all.”

Observing that this is why continued reforms had become imperative, President Tinubu continued: “Justice sector leaders and professionals need to find the right responses to the challenges we face through policy innovation, citizen-centered reform, systems change, and legislative reform, where necessary.

“I accordingly urge the leadership of all justice sector institutions to seek a new direction and focus on outcomes by creating a justice system that truly responds to the needs of our citizens – one that serves Nigerians now and for generations to come.

“I demand informed and coordinated responses to the identified challenges plaguing the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector. I demand performance so that Nigerians can feel and acknowledge the impact of your reform efforts. Ultimately, the expectations are that law and justice should aim to ensure public safety, economic development, peaceful co-existence, and the well-being of our people.”

Earlier, the Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio commended the commitment of all stakeholders in the justice sector in building a consensus that will ensure a more robust judicial system that guarantees justice for all irrespective of background and social status.

He undersored the commitment of the National Assembly for a more vibrant and transformative justice system, assuring that the legislature will play its part by deliberating on the outcome of the summit in a bid to enshrine the outcomes into law.

Maintaining that reforming the justice system is a moral imperative, Sen. Akpabio suggested that key recommendations for ammendment or review be clearly highlighted and sent to the National Assembly in the bid to ensure speedy and fair dispensation of justice, recommending a bottom to top approach in the proposed reforms.

On his part, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Okukayode Ariwoola, said given expectations from the judiciary, undertaking a holistic reform of the sector had become necessary, noting that “constitutional, statutory and operational reforms in the justice sector is imperative in meeting the aspirations and yearnings of the general public.”

The CJN attributed most of the achievements recorded in the judiciary to the support of Tinubu administration, particularly in the enhancement of the welfare of judicial officers and improvement in their working environment.

In the same vein, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, emphasised the significance of the revised draft national policy on justice, noting that building a national consensus on the advancement of the justice sector has become necessary.

On his part, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Yakubu Maikyau, commended leaders in the justice sector for convening the summit and noted that reforming practices and mechanism for operations in the sector was critical to the overall economic transformation of the country.

In his keynote address, a former Chief Justice of Kenya, Dr Willy Mutunga, looked at constitutional and overall justice sector reforms in Kenya and Nigeria and repositioning for an African justice system.

Analysing issues in the Kenyan and Nigerian justice sectors, specifically citing the sharia law system in Nigeria, Dr Mutunga said the development of a jurispudence that is African-based will go a long way in reinstating confidence of the people in the judiciary.

Also present at the event were the Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq; Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Barau Jibrin; Ministers of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Muhammad Idris; Interior, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo; the Chief of Defenece Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa; Chairman of EFCC, Mr Ola Olukoyede; Chairman of the NDLEA, Maj.- Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), and Chief Judges from the states, among others.

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