Home News Lawyers, judges say interlocutory appeals stall justice

Lawyers, judges say interlocutory appeals stall justice

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Abuja  –  Some Abuja-based lawyers and judges on Tuesday told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews that
interlocutory appeals delay quick dispensation of justice in the country.

Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN) said interlocutory appeals had been a drag on the justice system.

He aligned with the decision of recently retired Supreme Court justices John Afolabi and Justice Muntaka Coomassie on the termination of interlocutory
appeals at the Court of Appeal.

He said “I agree with them because interlocutory appeals have been the major obstacle to the process of quick dispensation of justice, particularly the criminal justice.’’

He said one of the ways to stop or solve the abuse of interlocutory appeals was to end such appeals at the level of the Appellate Courts.

According to Akinseye-George, another mechanism to resolve the problem of interlocutory appeals is through the application of
Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

“The mechanism suggested by the ACJA 2015 is that judges should take applications or arguments on interlocutory matters.

“But they are also entitled to defer their rulings on interlocutory matters so that such rulings can be taken while judgment is being delivered in substantive
matters.

“It is only in Nigeria, to the best of my knowledge, that interlocutory processes have such an incapacitating hold on the pursuit of justice.’’

He added that interlocutory appeals had been adopted in election petition matters in situations where such appeal determined the case.

Akinseye-George said the appeal had been used to stall proceedings, especially by high profile defendants who could afford the services of counsel.

He said “cases, which should have taken two to three years to resolve, have been stalled while appeals go back and forth.

“Lawyers have been infected with the act of not dealing with the substances of the case; rather, they focus on interlocutory and technical matters or objections which ultimately slow down the substantive matters.

He suggested that interlocutory appeals should wait for the determination of substantive matters and not used at the onset of cases “because such cases will continuously be delayed.”

On his part, Mr Uche Ofodile, another Abuja-based lawyer, said that the issue of interlocutory appeals had bothered the judiciary for some time now.

He added that “members of the bar and the bench are of the opinion that appeals that are interlocutory in nature should end at the Court of Appeal.

Ofodile lauded the recommendation of the justices of Supreme Court on interlocutory appeals and urged that such appeals should end at the Court of Appeal to fast track dispensation of justice. (NAN)

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