Appeal Court delivers 7,295 judgments, rulings on 3,665 motions in one year

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongben-Mensem, on Monday disclosed that the Court delivered a total of 7,295 judgments and rulings on 3,665 motions in the 2022/2023 legal year.

Justice Dongben-Mensen made the disclosure at an event held to mark the commencement of the 2023/2024 New Legal Year, at the Headquarters of the Court.

She recalled that a total of 98 panels were constituted to hear election petitions across the country to handle a total of 1,209 petitions that were filed against the 2023 general elections.

Among the petitions, she said five were filed at the Presidential Election Petition Court and have been concluded while some of the 147 filed at the Senatorial Election Tribunal have been delivered and 417 petitions from the House of Representatives election are also being attended to.

She also said at total of 557 petitions associated with the State Houses of Assembly, and 83 Gubernatorial Elections petitions are being disposed off, adding that 28 states participated in the governorship elections while petitions were filed in 24 states.

According to the President of the Court of Appeal, the Abuja Division is currently overwhelmed by voluminous documents and suffers from lack of adequate storage facilities and office space.

She therefore appealed to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to provide a large piece of land for the expansion of the Abuja Division.

Speaking at the event, a former Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, SAN, said on Monday that Nigeria’s continued survival greatly depends on the transparency of judicial officers in the discharge of their judicial functions.

Agabi pleaded with judges not to lose confidence in themselves no matter the challenges.

The former AGF, who spoke on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, BOSAN, said the contributions of judicial officers in the past years have kept the country intact.

Agabi noted that in spite of the contributions and sacrifices of judicial officers to the survival of the country, they are still attacked and criticised unwarrantedly.

He warned that the country would be doomed unless the unjust attacks against judicial officers are stopped.

“It is only here that judicial officers work harder than slaves and yet, they are not appreciated. But the consolation is that the Judges in Nigeria are a good match to the devils they are contending with.

“Whether we like it or not, we have to be proud of our Justices. They are brilliant and bold and some of them are appointed as Justices in other countries.

“A mistake by one Justice should be not be generalised to warrant general condemnation from any quarter. They surpass Judges from other countries. They deserve commendation for resisting the evils.

“Majority of judicial officers are still standing in the face of challenges and unless we are careful with the way we attack Judges, we will lose our minds and conscience”, he said.

He said, those who critisise judicial officers are at liberty to do so, but they have to be cautious in the way they go about it, adding that while critisising the judiciary, they must not resort to abuse.

The former Minister of Justice spoke against imposing outlandish bail conditions on suspected criminals.

He noted that the since the law presumes them innocent until guilt is established, imposing outlandish bail conditions that will keep them in custody is unconstitutional

According to him, “We need not to slam bail conditions that are unattainable as the principles which govern bail conditions are the same as fine governed by the constitution”.

He challenged the current AGF, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, to use his office to improve the welfare and work conditions of judicial officers in the country.

In his speech, Fagbemi said that President Bola Tinubu’s administration will address the issue of shortage of Justices at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.