In a somber revelation, Justice Monica Dongban Mensen, the President of the Court of Appeal, has voiced her concerns about the staggering number of appeals awaiting resolution within the appellate court.
As of August 31, 2023, a substantial 39,526 cases remain in the queue.
During the official commencement of the 2023/2024 legal year of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dongban Mensen shared this disconcerting statistic.
She highlighted that this figure marks a significant increase from the 34,037 cases pending during the 2021/2022 Legal Year.
Despite facing a deficit of 18 Justices during the previous year, the Court of Appeal strived to uphold justice by processing a substantial number of appeals and motions.
In the 2022/2023 legal year, 7,295 appeals and 3,665 motions were filed across the 20 Divisions of the Court.
Impressively, 3,765 appeals were determined, and 5,617 motions were disposed of. Among these, 1,030 appeals were dismissed, while 10,381 were allowed.
To cope with the shortage of Justices, special panels were convened to alleviate the burden on heavily affected Divisions.
It was gathered that these panels successfully handled 484 appeals and motions in 10 Divisions of the Court.
Justice Dongban Mensen acknowledged the strain special panels placed on the Court’s resources.
However, she emphasized their importance in addressing urgent and critical cases while maintaining the integrity of the judicial system.
Also, during the 2023 vacation, three special panels were established to address time-bound appeals.
Notably, the Justices addressed 87 Election Appeals, including pre-election appeals, interlocutory appeals from the Tribunals, and substantive election appeals.
Despite their dedication and hard work, the Justices of the appellate court often face hardships, underpayment, intimidation, and insults.
Justice Dongban Mensen asserted the need for their due recognition and fair treatment.
Responding to this, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), assured that the issue of Justice shortages at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court would be addressed under President Bola Tinubu’s administration.
Similarly, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), emphasized the vital role of transparency among judicial officers in Nigeria’s survival.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), Agabi noted that, in spite of the contributions and sacrifices of judicial officers to the survival of the country, they are still been unwarantedly attacked and criticised.
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 ematch to the devil they are contending with” Agabi said.
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