By Wandoo Sombo
Abuja – President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki says efficient justice delivery is essential to the nation’s economic growth, development and socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians.
Saraki said this on Thursday in Abuja at a validation session of the National Summit on Justice organised by the Ministry of Justice.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Thursday’s session was to validate and adopt the Draft National Policy on Justice which stakeholders put together at the technical session of the summit which opened on Tuesday.
Saraki, who was represented by Sen. David Umaru, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters said investors would only invest in an environment where there was a functional judicial system.
“Investors will only put their money in a place where there is a functional judicial system and where every citizen is governed in equal measures by the rule of law,” he said.
He also noted that judicial reforms should be institutionalised in order to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the judicial system.
“Judicial reforms in addition to being institutionalised, should also be constantly reviewed to reflect the constant dynamics of the society.
“It should not be treated like a one-off project or a talk show but as a workable template that should be adhered to,’’ he said.
Saraki said that ensuring effective access to justice was one of the major challenges of the justice system and the senate was committed to working with partners to make the system simpler and faster.
The Chairman of the event, Chief Justice of the Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen stressed the need to streamline the rules of procedure in courts to reduce delays in disposal of cases.
Onnoghen, represented by Justice Mary Odili said although, uniformity may not be achieved due to diverse religions and cultures, the goal should be to achieve and ensure fair play and equity.
The chief justice expressed confidence in the new policy because it would achieve its goal of building consensus among justice sector institutions and practitioners.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami said that the policy would provide the needed professional guidance for all justice sector institutions in the discharge of their duties.
“We are today putting in place a policy that sets out agreed principles and guidelines for effective and efficient service delivery.
“The policy provides a framework for resolving cross institutional problems, developing and managing an all inclusive reform as well as coordinates the implementation of reforms.’’
NAN reports that stakeholders at the summit adopted the policy which is a 34-page document with 17 thematic areas including fair and speedy dispensation of justice, protection of human rights and access to justice.
The document was presented to the CJN with a recommendation that a national summit be held annually to monitor and evaluate implementation of the policy. (NAN)