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Why the judiciary should be decentralized – El-Rufai

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has called for the decentralization of the judiciary “because the heavy case-load of High Court Judges in Kaduna State hinders the administration of justice.”

The governor, who made this known when the National President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Akpata, paid him a courtesy call on Tuesday, said that “On average, a High Court judge in Kaduna State handles about 250 cases.”

El-Rufai said that his administration has been making cases for the National Judicial Council (NJC) to double the number of High Court judges in Kaduna State, which will reduce the case-load to about 100 per judge, which is still too high.”

Governo El-Rufai in a statement made in Kaduna Tuesday, noted that it is an anomaly to have a unitary judiciary in a federation, saying that “I am one of the major advocates of the decentralization of our unitarist judiciary to a federal one.

“We are pushing for the creation of State Judicial Councils that will handle the appointment of High Court judges in the states, because that is the only way that we will be able to take our fates in our hands.

“I believe that we have enough lawyers in the public and private sectors in Kaduna State, to get 20 judges tomorrow, if the State Judicial Council screens them and makes their recommendations. But we are constitutionally constrained as speak.”

The governor said that he is “happy that the National Assembly has started the process of trying to remove the bottleneck; and I urge the Nigerian Bar Association to openly support it.”

El-Rufai argued that decentralizing the judiciary will be “in the interest of administration of justice; it will give more opportunities for qualified lawyers in the private and public sectors and the academia, to be part of the judiciary.”

The governor, who also has a degree in law, further argued that, “Bringing in outsiders always brings innovations and new ideas to improve the system.

“I do not believe that the only path to being a High Court Judge is to be a magistrate or state counsel. There are many other paths, as other countries have shown, and have produced excellent judges at all levels,” he added.

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