The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, Monday, decried what he termed as enormous challenges facing justice administration in the country, noting that some magistrates take turns to share courtrooms.
Justice Muhammad, in a keynote address at the opening ceremony of 2019 Refresher Course for Magistrates, held at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, in Abuja, said he was optimistic that the Federal Government would look into the issue of lack of modern court infrastructure in the country.
He urged Judges and Magistrates across the federation to be patient, even as he implored them to eschew all forms of corruption in the discharge of their duties.
He said, “As Magistrates, your appointment and powers confer jurisdiction on you to try both indictable and non-indictable offences not exceeding the limit of your jurisdictions.
“It is trite that the greater bulk of criminal cases are handled by Magistrate Courts. It therefore, behoves on you to be guided by the ever-green principle of criminal jurisprudence on presumption of innocence.
“By so doing, you will instil confidence in the public of securing justice in the courts. You must always remember that the overriding consideration in all criminal trials is for the Magistrates, the prosecutor and defendant to act fairly and honestly, so that justice must not only be done, but must be manifestly seen to be done.
“In order to avoid causing untold hardship and injustice to litigants which may be occasioned by convicting and punishing an innocent defendant, you must subject every item of facts raised for and against the defendant to scrutiny.
“Nothing is to be taken for granted, especially where the liberty of a citizen is at stake. Let me at this juncture reiterate that you should always adhere to the highest standard of integrity and moral rectitude. It therefore, goes without saying that corruption in any of its forms must be eschewed.
“This is because it is antithetical to the judicial process and therefore, cannot be allowed to thrive if courts must exist. We are not unaware of the enormous challenges you face in your courts, such as lack of adequate modern court infrastructure.
“Indeed some of you take turns to share courtrooms. There is also the challenge of security of your persons and your Court rooms. Despite all these, I want to encourage you to be patient and be committed to your duties.
“Hopefully, we are optimistic that all the issues will be redressed in due course”, he added.
In her welcome address, Justice R.P.I. Bozimo, the Administrator of the NJI, said the theme of this year’s Refresher Course, “Repositioning the Magistracy for Better Justice Delivery”, was apt and timely.