- Says 35 judges to grapple with 16,000 cases in new legal year
Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Justice Ishaq Bello, on Monday raised the alarm that the caseload of FCT judges is the heaviest and most complex in the country.
Justice Bello who spoke at the special court session ceremony marking the beginning of the new 2019/2020 legal year said the 35 judges of the court are to contend with over 16,000 cases in the new legal year.
Justice Bello said on the average, a judge of the court has about 850 cases in his or her docket and decides about 387 cases in a legal year.
This implies that more than half of the cases would be carried over to the next legal year.
The complaint by Justice Bello is not different from those earlier made by heads of various levels of court in the country from magistracy to the Supreme Court.
He said, “Bearing great relevance to the duty of adjudication is the quality and quantity of our work as judges.
“Thus, as our disposal rates increase, so should the quality of our judgments.
“By any standards, the caseload of the judges you see here today is among the heaviest and the most complex across many jurisdictions in the country.
“This is understandable as litigants prefer to litigate in the FCT on grounds of the confidence we have built over time.
“Workload at times put pressure on our human and material resources. You should, therefore, understand with us where your expectations are not completely met.”
According to the statistics of cases reeled out by the Chief Judge, there are a total of 16,621 cases pending in the court, while he also noted that the court lost two judges – Justices Valentine Ashi and C. U Ndukwe, to death in the last 2018/2019 legal year bringing the number of judges down to 35.
He said the court had 30,582 pending cases last legal year, out of which 16,396 were fresh cases and 14,186 were carried over from 2017/2018.