Senior lawyers in the country have expressed concern at the number of appeals pending at the Supreme Court.
According to a source at the apex court, there are over 8,000 appeals at the Supreme Court waiting to be heard.
He said apart from political cases that need urgent attention, any appeal to the court now is given a 2028 date for hearing, adding that only time-bound appeals that cannot wait will be given urgent attention at the court.
He said, already, the registry of the court is full at the moment.
LEADERSHIP findings show that appeals filed between 2006 and 2009 have dates of hearing/determination from now till the end of 2021. Some of the appeals or cases brought to the Supreme Court from 2010 till date are yet to get dates of hearing and shall be assigned hearing dates from 2022 and beyond.
According to findings, most cases affected are civil in nature.
A source at the Supreme Court further said it would take up to 2028 to clear the cases of eight years ago.
LEADERSHIP findings further show that the pending civil appeals adjourned for hearing/determination between now and 2021 are 215 appeals filed in 2006, 253 in 2007, 235 in 2008 and 243 appeals of 2009.
Besides, pending appeals which would be given dates for hearing with effect from 2022 include 308 appeals from 2010, 324 of 2011, 351 of 2012, 503 of 2013, 597 of 2014 and 675 of 2015.
Others are 725 appeals of 2016, 743 of 2017 and 726 fresh appeals filed so far in 2018.
While a total of 8,935 appeals were filed from 2006 till date, 3,037 represents political and criminal matters, just as 5,898 from the sum total are civil in nature and are pending in the Supreme Court docket.
”The appeals at the Supreme Court at the moment are many and the justices of the court are doing their best to ensure that the appeals are dealt with so that the registry of the court can be decongested.
“Apart from political cases and some cases that are very urgent and time-bound, the earliest date any appeal filed now can get at the Supreme Court is 2028. No one can blame the leadership of the judiciary for this. The cases are too many, including those that are frivolous”, he said.
Some senior lawyers who spoke to LEADERSHIP said the situation had become very embarrassing and disturbing because it has an immensely negative impact on economic growth and development, stunts democracy, creates social disorder or encourages all manner of criminality in the country.
A senior advocate, Abdul Balogun, said the constitution needs to be amended in order to overhaul and transform the justice delivery system of the country.
He said the Supreme Court is overburdened, because of the 1999 Constitution and the current system that allows automatic right of appeal in all matters to get to the Supreme Court has to be reviewed.
”The interlocutory appeals have to be taken together with the main matter, rather than allowing appeals separately on it to the apex court.
”The constitution should be further amended to allow for the appointment of ad-hoc justices so as to allow retired justices and erudite senior advocates to be invited from time to time to help decongest the court,” he said.
Another senior lawyer, Ejike G. Ugamadu, said justice delayed is justice denied. According to him, if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely manner, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all.
”The condition of the justice delivery system in the country at present is such that the injured parties are forced to sustain their injuries with little hope for resolution and informs why people rampantly opt for self-help these days,” he said.
Barrister Shehu Adi, on his part, said appeal should not be automatic to the Supreme Court, in order to reduce the number of appeals going to the Supreme Court.
According to him, too many appeals lead to confusion in the law, even as he called for frequent revision of the law.
He said, ‘’Appeals should not be automatic but by leave of court in order to reduce the inflow of appeals.
”Only cases that raise constitutional issues or points of law should be appealed to the apex court as practised in the USA, where they don’t sit on appeals more than 100 a year. If restrictions are so applied then, what now comes to the apex court can change law.”