By Our Reporter
A retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Chinwe Iyizoba has raised concern over the debilitating state of the judiciary in the country.
Iyizoba disclosed this on Saturday while delivering the First Law Lecture of the Faculty of Law, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu.
The topic of the lecture was: “ Assessing the Impact of Judicial Autonomy on the Efficacy of the Nigerian Judicial System: An Insider Experience’.
She said that the judiciary seemed to be under siege over the unwillingness of state governors to obey the constitutional provision on judicial autonomy and subsisting court judgement on the matter.
She said that judicial autonomy was the needed elixir for efficient administration of justice and the dilapidation in the sector.
The former judge in Anambra judiciary said that drastic measures had always been advocated to address the problems of the judiciary.
She said that the situation had led to incessant strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
She said that the judiciary, especially, at the state level was starved of funds as monies due the sector in the Consolidated Revenue Fund were not paid directly to the heads of the court.
Iyizoba said that the proper running of the judiciary depended on the whims and caprices of the respective governors.
“This is an unhealthy situation and has left the judiciaries of many states in sorry situation.
“Judicial autonomy has always been a life issue in this country leading to strike by JUSUN due to the refusal of state governors to comply with the constitutional provisions and court judgments.
“As far as financial autonomy is concerned, the Executive at the federal level is compliant with constitutional provision,” she said.
She said that judicial autonomy would not only guarantee a free, impartial and honest judiciary but would strengthen democracy in Nigeria.
“Various political office holders still carry on as if they own some judges and the effect of this on our justice delivery system is very debilitating.
“When the neutrality of the court cannot be guaranteed, then there is no need approaching that temple for any form of remedy,” she said.
Iyizoba said that there had to be a consciousness on the part of the executive arm to allow judges function according to the dictates of their conscience and appropriate statutes.
“If we ever get to the stage where the people have totally lost confidence in the judiciary, then we should all be ready to live in the Hobbesian state of anarchy,” Iyizoba said.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Christian Anieke, said that the lecture was important to the students and members of the public.
Anieke, who is also a cleric of the Catholic Church, said that the programme would afford the law students the opportunity to learn how to navigate the murky waters in the Nigerian Judiciary System.
The vice chancellor applauded the efforts of one Mr Peter Mbah toward the development of the Peter Mbah Law Auditorium, adding that 2020 remained one of the best years of the university.
Ikengaonline reports that some of the dignitaries that attended the event included the former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie and the Chief Executive Officer, Peace Mass Transit, Chief Samuel Onyeishi.