The National Judicial Council (NJC) has appealed to the legislature and executive to increase the funding for the judiciary in line with the realities of the times.
The executive secretary of the council, Ahmed Saleh, stated this on Monday during a budget defence session with the House of Representatives Committee on Justice.
The NJC appeared before the house alongside the Supreme Court of Nigeria; the Court of Appeal; the Federal High Court; the National Industrial Court of Nigeria; the Federal Judicial Service Commission; and the National Body of Benchers.
Mr Saleh advocated for an increase in budgetary allocations. He stated some of the challenges facing the judiciary include the non-disbursement of the financial relief promised in the wake of the pandemic.
He said over 75 per cent of budgeted funds in 2020 were accessed.
He also stated that the Supreme Court has increased its judges from 12 to 20 which according to him requires more expenses.
“The Supreme Court was expanded to 20, the Court of Appeal and FHC is in the process of appointing 20 additional judges,” he said.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic caused the judiciary to continue to leverage on ICT “which requires more money”.
Responding to the demand, chairman of the House committee on justice, Anefiok Luke, assured that the house would look into their appeal “and ensure the right thing is done”.
He said the committee is committed to seeing the country’s justice system excel.
He noted that the pandemic slowed down services in addition to the threats posed to the lives of judges and the vandalism of court infrastructure by hoodlums during the #EndSARs protests.
Describing the attacks on facilities by the hoodlums, who hijacked the protests, as condemnable, Mr Luke called for the establishment of a ‘central server’ for courts nationwide.
“The 9th House of Representatives, under the leadership of the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, and the House Committee on Judiciary, is highly committed to efficient justice delivery system of Nigeria, and will do all within its powers to ensure this is not compromised for the sustainability of human rights values,” he said.
The judiciary is the third independent arm of government whose funds are budgeted under statutory transfers.
The judiciary controls its own budget but is under the supervision of the NJC.