The Supreme Court said it delivered 297 judgments by the close of the 2017/2018 legal year.
Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), disclosed this on Monday in an address at the special session to mark the commencement of the 2018/2019 Legal Year in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ceremony also witnessed the swearing-in of 30 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Mr Onnoghen further said the court considered 1,540 matters comprising motions, appeals and judgments.
The CJN said the court treated 824 civil and 273 criminal motions totaling 1097.
According to him, the court has also considered 438 appeals comprising 246 civil and 192 criminal.
“A total of 297 judgments were delivered by the close of the 2017/2018 legal year.
“This is by all means an impressive report considering the persistent and increasing volume of the cases that continued to come before the court.
“I attribute this impressive performance to the hard work of judicial officers, support staff and the reforms we are implementing to improve justice delivery.
“As we sit daily and sometimes conduct special sittings to clear backlog of cases, we remain committed to expeditious dispensation of justice.
“As we acknowledge noticeable improvement in the disposition of cases, we are not resting on our laurels. This court will therefore continue to strive for speedy disposal of cases that come before us,’’ Onnohgen said.
On the international scene, the CJN said the country’s justice reform had attracted recognition and reward.
“I was recently conferred with the Michael Hill Prize by the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law in Montreal, Canada.
“I was also in Vienna, Austria at the launch of the Global Judicial Integrity Network by the United Nations Office on Drugs in April.
“I am happy to inform you that one of our judges, Justice Kashim Zannah, Chief Judge of Borno State, was nominated to serve on the Advisory Board of this important body,’’ the CJN said.
Meanwhile, Mr Onnoghen urged the newly sworn-in Senior Advocates of Nigeria to shun corruption, adding that the system would not hesitate to withdraw such privilege from anyone who abused the rank.
“The rank is the zenith of the legal practice and the highest honour conferred by noble profession.
“It is rare privilege bestowed on eminently deserving members of the Bar who have distinguished themselves in the knowledge, practice of and contribution to the law, having passed through rigorous processes,” Mr Onnoghen said.
Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), said the commencement of the new legal year offered an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of the past year and to review the strategies to confront them.
Mr Malami, the Minister of Justice, said the occasion provided legal practitioners another opportunity to rededicate themselves to the rule of law.
The AGF, represented by Dayo Aptata, the Solicitor-General of the Federation, said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would continue to ensure the independence of the Judicial and Legislative arms of government.
According to the AGF, such independence will ensure that the two arms of government play their constitutional roles in a more robust manner.
“His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, earlier in the year, assented to the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution, which amended Section 121 of the Constitution.
“This is to provide that monies due to the judiciary in the Annual Budget should henceforth be paid directly to the heads of the courts and that of the legislature also paid to the heads thereof.
“This alteration, without doubt, finally answers to the need to have more independent and impartial courts at the federal and state levels and will certainly advance the cause of the Rule of Law in our country,’’ he said.
Also, Mr Malami expressed delight that the country’s judicial system continued to enrich the inner bar with experienced hands.
The AGF said the roll call of lawyers sworn-in as Senior Advocates of Nigeria was indicative of the quality of legal practitioners the country paraded.
“I am convinced, considering your years of toil and labour and the painstaking selection process through which you have emerged, that you are deserving of this eminent rank.
“I therefore charge you to remain shining lights in the practice of law within and outside of Nigeria. I must however hasten to add that there are corresponding duties and responsibilities that go with your new rank.
“A Senior Advocate of Nigeria has a duty to exhibit the highest form of decorum, discipline and dedication to the course of justice and fair play,” he said.
Paul Usoro said the new Senior Advocates of Nigeria must ensure they were responsible to their colleagues of the Outer Bar and in particular the army of young lawyers under their tutelage.
The Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) on July 12, elevated 31 legal practitioners to the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
They were Madu Abuchi, Essien Udom, Oluyemisi Bangbose, Metong Urombo, Wahab Egbewole, George Igbokwe, Olubowale Taiwo, Oluwole Iyamu, Adekole Olawoye, Stephen Adehi and Olusuen Akinbiyi.
Others are: Emmanuel Achukwu, Kenneth Ahia, Loius Alozie, Isa Chiroma, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, Johnson Ojo, Wole Agunbiade, Olayode Delano, Tanimu Inuwa, Sonny Wogu and Prof. Offorinze Amucheazi.
The rest are: Adewale Atake, Mosediq Kazeem, Edmund Obiagwu, Muhammed Mustapha-Akanbi, Cosmas Enweluzo, Isiaka Mudi as well as Olabode Olanipekun.
NAN, however, reports that Ikhide Ehighelua’s conferment was striped on account of a petition brought against him.
The committee had also gone ahead to bar Mr Ehighelua from applying for the rank for the next five years or five applications beginning from 2019.