The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad, has said that the judiciary is in financial bondage.
The CJN said this on Monday at a special session to mark the beginning of the 2019/2020 legal year. He also complained about the salaries of judges.
“Be that as it may, when we assess the judiciary from the financial perspective, how free can we say we are? The annual budget of the judiciary is still a far cry from what it ought to be,” he said.
“The figure is either stagnated for a long period or it goes on a progressive decline… I make bold to say that the salaries of judicial officers in Nigeria are still far from an ideal package to take home.
“Effort should be made by the relevant authorities to increase the salary and also work out measures to improve the welfare package of judicial officers, especially after retirement.”
Muhammad appealed to the federal and state governments, saying: “I am using this medium to appeal to governments at all levels to free the judiciary from the financial bondage it has been subjected over the years.”
He also said his administration would not tolerate the disobedience of court orders by government at all levels, according to The Cable.
The federal government has been accused of disobeying court orders it considers unfavourable.
However, Muhammad said the rule of law which is the bastion of every democracy across the world must be strictly observed.
“The rule of law must be observed in all our dealings and we must impress it on the governments at all levels to actively toe the path,” he said.
“The right of every citizen against any form of oppression and impunity must be jealously guarded and protected with the legal tools at our disposal.
“All binding court orders must be obeyed. Nobody, irrespective of his or her position, will be allowed to toy with court judgments.”
He called on all to collectively show the desired commitment to the full enthronement of the rule of law in Nigeria.
“As we all know, flagrant disobedience of court orders or non-compliance with judicial orders is a direct invitation to anarchy in the society,” he said.
“Such acts are completely antithetical to the rule of law in a democratic environment, and will not be tolerated under my watch as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“We must work together to make Nigeria one of the frontline countries that observe the rule of law and rights of the citizens in all ramifications”.
He said that the judiciary under him is vigorously embracing technology to fast track its processes.
“We have automated our library with Liberty5 software, our classifications and catalogues are now done online,” he said.
“We have also subscribed to Weatlaw which has content of over 6000 law books and journals, and access to the library will soon be made available to everyone that is entitled to browse.”