RIVERS State Governor Chibuike Amaechi has voiced concern over the delay in trial of former chief security officer to late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Al-Mustapha and two others, charged with the murder of Kudirat Abiola, and said it was justice denied.
Amaechi charged the Nigerian Bar and the Bench as well as other stakeholders in the legal profession to work together to identify the causes of the delays in the dispensation of justice in the country.
In an address titled: “Justice delayed equals justice denied” which he presented during his first town hall meeting with members of the legal profession at the Rivers State High Court complex in Port Harcourt, Monday, Amaechi noted that in any society, human interactions would always bring about differences of opinions and views as well as interests.
These differences that might relate to social, economic or political interest of members of that society, according to him, were at the root of conflicts.
The governor pointed out that when members of a civilized society have disputes regarding their rights or obligations, they seek redress through the court created and empowered specifically to address differences and resolve disputes in the society.
Considering the critical role of the court as an institution for an orderly society, the governor stressed that where the court is not in a position, for any reason, to timely and properly address issues in dispute, the people lose faith in it as a critical institution of government, with the resultant recourse to other means to resolving disputes including self help.
“Should a judicial system continue to adjourn a case for 13 years without conclusion of the trial? That is what the Nigerian judicial system has done in the matter of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and two others, charged with conspiracy and murder of Hajia Kudirat Abiola,” he said.
Amaechi lamented that the justice administration system as represented by the court in the country is unusually slow. This, he contended, has adverse implications for the society.
“This ugly situation brings us to fore the famous maxim: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. The legal maxim requires that legal redress should be timely. Thus, if legal redress available for a party that has suffered some injury is not forthcoming in a timely manner, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all,” he said.
Amaechi who canvassed speedy trial of cases in the court, blamed lack of automation and use of relevant technology in the courts as some of the factors responsible for the delay of cases. According to him, it would be unfair for an injured party to have to sustain the injury with little hope for resolution.
The Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Justice, Rufus Godwin, noted that though the notion of delay in the administration of justice is neither peculiar to Nigeria, not of any recent origin.
He explained that public frustrations with the unbearably slow pace of the wheel of the machinery of justice had spurred people to resort to such bizarre alternatives like the weird and notorious Okija shrine and other similar contraptions of crude justice delivery system.
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