President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday proposed that all civil cases in court should be conclude within 15 months and that criminal cases from the high court to the Supreme Court should be concluded within a year.
President Buhari disclosed this while he spoke at the 60th Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), with the theme: ‘Stepping Forward.’
The President Buhari who was virtually represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo stated the duration it takes to conclude a case in the nation is extremely long.
Recalling his experience with the judiciary the President said: “In the end, I lost all three cases. I wondered then, why it needed to take so long to arrive at a verdict and if I had won the case, someone who did not legitimately win the election would have been in office all that time.”
“In 2019, I was no longer petitioner; I became a respondent in the case of Atiku(Abubakar) vs Buhari and the whole process took just over six months.”
“What was the difference? The law had changed since my own in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Time limits for election petitions had been introduced. Now, everything must be done within a six to eight-month period.”
“My question then, is why can’t we have a time limit for criminal cases? Why can’t we have a rule that will say a criminal trial all the way to the Supreme Court must not exceed 12 months?”
“Why can’t we do the same for civil cases? Can’t we say that civil cases must not go beyond between 12 and 15 months? I think that for me will be stepping forward.”
Others that spoke at the conference were an erstwhile United Kingdom Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; Governors Babajide Sanwolu (Lagos) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers) as well as out-going NBA President Paul Usoro (SAN); the newly elected President of the association, Olumide Akpata, and a former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu
The first ever virtual AGC by the NBA had over 2,000 participants.