Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) have called on the National Assembly to increase the 2021 budget estimate for the judiciary.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari, presented the 2021 Appropriation Bill of N13 trillion before a joint session of the National Assembly, where the sum of N110 billion was earmarked for the judiciary.
Few days after the budget presentation, stakeholders in the judiciary have described the funds for the judiciary as “paltry”, particularly, when viewed against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic that has amplified the need to expand court facilities for swift justice dispensation.
While reacting to the budget presentation of a N110 billion budget estimate for the judiciary over the weekend, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), said Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 judiciary requires massive investment in critical infrastructure in terms of recruitment and remuneration of judges as well as Information Communication Technology (ICT) to fast tract adjudication of cases.
He lamented that the nation’s judiciary under President Buhari’s watch had not been accorded its rightful place as an independent arm of government, adding, “The judiciary has always been at the short end of the stick. It has not found favour at all under the current dispensation.”
Awomolo further explained, “The new normal has thrown up the imperativeness of the use of information and communication technology as a tool to achieving the quick administration of justice, whether criminal or civil”.
“But the truth is that it appears that the executive has not realised the need to take a critical look at the gap in the infrastructure, training of personnel and the application of ICT in the judiciary”.
“The allocation to the judiciary is very unrealistic. It is a repetition of what has been happening in the last four or five years. But the National Assembly still has an opportunity of improving on the N110 billion budget estimates for the judiciary in the 2021 Appropriation Bill,” he suggested.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mallam Yusuf Ali, in a separate reaction to the new budget cycle, said “it is in the strategic interest of Nigeria and Nigerians that adequate funding for the judiciary should be a priority.”