The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Monday lamented that Nigerians, especially the political class, are the most litigious people on earth.
The CJN said the actions of the political class continually put unprecedented pressure on the judiciary.
He canvassed the need for Nigerians public to embrace more of alternative dispute resolution to free the courts of unnecessary over-stretching of human and material resources.
Ariwoola stated this in a speech he delivered to mark the commencement of the Court’s 2022/23 Legal Year and Swearing -in of newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
He noted that Nigerian judiciary is “yet to be free or truly independent” as the third arm of government, adding ; “to a very large extent, judiciary is independent in conducting its affairs and taking decisions on matters before it without any extraneous influence, the same cannot be said in the area of its finance.
“Nevertheless, I will make it clear to whoever cares to listen that when the Nigerian judiciary is assessed from the financial aspect, we are yet to be free or truly independent. The annual budget of the judiciary is still a far cry from what it ought to be. The figure is either stagnated for a long period of time or it goes on a progressive decline when placed side by side with the current realities in the market.
“The only thing I can do at this juncture is to plead with the other arms of government and allied agencies to clear all the impediments so we can enjoy our independence holistically. This is a clarion call to the other two arms of government to make the funding of the juudiciary a major priority.”
President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government had recently approved an immediate improvement in the welfare of the judicial officers.
However, the CJN identified “our extremely poor and pitiable salary package” as a “major issue of concern that equally has to be attended to with the urgency it requires.”
He stated that the judiciary will never go cap -in-hand to any arm or agency of government to get what is rightly due to it.