FCT Minister, Barrister Ezenwo Nyesome Wike, has said that the role consistently played by the FCT Judiciary will keep serving as the fulcrum of his reforms in 2024.
Wike stated this at the commencement of the 2023-2024 Legal Year in the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama District, Abuja, Monday.
The Minister, who was represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr. Olusade Adesola, said his Administration’s reforms in the FCT would encompass various aspects including urban development, infrastructure, education, healthcare and governance.
He maintained that “the legal system provides the framework within which these reforms must operate. It is the Judiciary that ensures contracts are upheld, disputes fairly resolved and justice is accessible to all.”
Wike called on members of the Bench and the Bar to provide guidance and support to his Administration as it navigates the legal intricacies of his efforts at reforming the Territory’s Administration through transformative initiatives, which can be felt in the first few months with him in the saddle as Minister of the Territory.
Earlier in his speech to announce the commencement of the 2023-2024 Legal Year of the FCT High Court, the Chief Judge of the FCT, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf, said with only 58 Hon. Judges on the Bench in FCT High Courts, the Courts remain overstretched in terms of caseload.
The consequences of such case overload, according to the Chief Judge, includes delays in the legal process and potential strain on the Judicial System.
Hon. Justice Baba Yusuf said the FCT High Courts are creatively adopting various means of addressing the situation “by using e-filling to ehance efficiency, prioritizing old cases and urgent matters, encouraging parties to resolve disputes through mediation or arbitration and… use of plea bargain mechanisms.”
According to him, of the 5,952 assigned new cases in the FCT High Court in 2022/2023, 4,293 of those cases were successfully determined representing a completion rate of 72.4% while out of the total of 7,354 new assigned cases filed at the Magistrate Court, 7,328 cases were successfully determined representing an outstanding cases completion rate of 99.6%.
Hon Justice Yusuf, however, said there were 13,996 cases still pending in both civil and criminal matters at the Magistrate Court as the 2022/2023 legal year rounds up.
A Special Open Ceremonial Court Session also took place at the Justice L. H Gummi Square at the onset where hardworking staff of the FCT High Court were recognized in various capacities for their contributions to the service delivery in the Judiciary Sector.