Judicial Reform: NBA seeks amendment to NJC composition


●Demands appointment of court administrators

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has recommended a rejig of the composition of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in the constitution.

That was after it faulted the current system that made it mandatory that the Council must be headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.

National Judicial Council

In a proposal submitted at the just concluded national summit on justice sector reforms, the NBA is proposing that “members of the NJC should be appointed as follows: six judicial officers appointed by CJN; six lawyers nominated by the National Executive Council of the NBA including the NBA President and six non lawyers appointed by the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, subject to the approval of the Senate.

“The Chairmanship of these bodies should be rotated between the heads of the three constituent groups.”

According to the NBA, “The inherent flaws in the composition of the NJC impacts negatively on its ability to prosecute judicial misconduct in a manner that inspires public confidence.”

NJC is a creation of section 153 of the 1999 Constitution with statutory powers to hire and fire erring judicial officers in the country.

NBA, which is the umbrella body of legal practitioners in the country also recommended the appointment of court administrators to take over the administrative functions of the various Heads of court such as procurement, budgeting, renovation of courts and implementation of judicial appropriations.

“These are activities within court administration that have severally been identified by the anti-corruption bodies as areas prone to corrupt activities.

“This proposal for the creation of this office takes cognizance of the role of the Chief Registrars of courts who will under the proposed arrangements enable them (together with heads of courts) concentrate solely on the business of adjudication especially case management without distraction.”

It further demanded the de-linking of judicial remuneration from that of the civil service, noting that there had always been an informal linkage between judicial salaries and that of senior civil servants and public officers.

“There is the need to de-link judicial remuneration from that of the civil/public service. De-linking judicial remuneration from that of the civil/public service would not only strengthen the perception of judicial independence, but would also provide the necessary safeguard and reassurance to judicial officers,” it added.

Meanwhile, reading the communique to newsmen on Friday, Chairman of the Joint Planning Committee of the summit, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, said proposals for reform that were made by the NBA were considered and approved in modified form.

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