Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, has warned lawyers not to engage in actions that cause delay in cases at the Supreme Court.
The warning is aimed at ensuring the speedy resolution of cases at the Supreme Court, the official said.
According to the directive, lawyers and others involved in the resolution of pending cases must ensure that hearing dates are strictly adhered to and unnecessary adjournments avoided.
Mr Onnoghen’s instruction followed his disclosure that cases currently pending at the apex court may take till 2021 to be resolved, due to enormity of matters still before the court.
He made the disclosure through a statement signed by his special assistant on media, Awassam Bassey, on Monday.
“It is pertinent to state that the Supreme Court diary is full with appeals set down for hearing up to the year 2021.
“The situation therefore leaves no room for unnecessary adjournments arising from lack of diligent prosecution, poor preparations or non-appearance by Counsel.
“Accordingly, the Hon. CJN says this means that any matter that is assigned a date must be heard and determined one way or the other on that date.
”For appeals that may be discovered to have defects, counsel is advised to take necessary steps to amend such defects before the due hearing date”, he said, adding that ”everyone must come to the court fully prepared for the business of the day.”
The statement adds that the NJC has begun publication of pending cases within the court, three months ahead of the hearing dates, as against the weekly publication of cases earlier practiced.
The change is to enable parties prepare accordingly to avoid unnecessary delay of cases.
“On the directives of His Lordship, the Hon. CJN, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has commenced publishing its cause list for up to three months per time on its website, www.supremecourt.gov.ng.
“This is a departure from the former practice where the Court only published weekly Cause List and the Rulings on Applications from Chamber Sitting on the said website.
“The policy, according to the CJN, is deliberately targeted at the speedy dispensation of Justice and its publication is to encourage counsel to take advantage of the initiative and prepare adequately ahead of hearings, to avoid any delays.
“On a related note, the CJN advises counsel to obtain their official legal email addresses if they have not done so yet as communication with and service of processes at the Supreme Court remain only via the legal E-mail. Counsel can get the legal mail at legalmail.nigerianbar.ng; while they can send appeal/motion details to scn/lit.reg.@courts.gov.ng.”
This latest directives by the chief justice is the latest in a series of directives aimed at ensuring speedy dispensation of justice.
Mr Onnoghen was sworn in as substantive chief justice of Nigeria last year.