The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensen, has said that the appellate court has 39,526 pending cases.
Justice Dongben-Mensen made this known during a ceremony to usher in the 2023/2024 new legal year.
She said the appeal court received a total of 7,295 appeals and 3,665 motions in the 2022/2023 legal year.
“During the 2022/2023 legal year, a total of 7,295 appeals and 3,665 motions were filed in the 20 Divisions of the Court.
“The court determined 3,765 cases and disposed of 5,617 motions. 1,030 of these appeals were dismissed and 10,381 were allowed.
“The court still has a total of 39,526 Appeals pending as at 31st of August, 2023. This is an increase from 34,037 pending in the Court in the 2021/2022 Legal Year” she said.
She said that a total of 98 panels were constituted to hear election petitions across the country to handle a total of 1,209 petitions that were filed.
Among the petitions, she said, five were filed at the presidential election petition court and have been concluded, while some of 147 filed at the Senatorial election tribunal have been delivered and 417 petitions from the House of Representatives election are also being attended to.
She also said total of 557 petitions associated with the State houses of Assembly, and 83 Gubernatorial Elections petitions are being disposed off. She added that twenty-eight States participated in the Governorship elections, and petitions were filed in 24 states.
According to her, the Abuja division is currently overwhelmed by voluminous documents and suffers from lack of adequate storage facilities and office space.
She therefore appealed to the Minister of the FCT to provide a large piece of land for the construction of the Abuja Division.
Speaking at the event, a former Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, SAN, said that Nigeria’s continued survival greatly depends on the transparency of judicial officers in the discharge of their judicial functions.
Agabi therefore, pleaded with Judges and Justices not to lose confidence and principles in themselves no matter the challenges.
He spoke on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN).
He added that the contributions of judicial officers in the past years have kept the country intact and from chaos and anarchy.
According to him, inspite of the contributions and sacrifices of judicial officers to the survival of the country, they are “still been unwarrantedly attacked and criticised” he said.
He warned that the country would be doomed unless the unjust attacks against judicial officers are stopped.
“It is only here that judicial officers work harder than slaves and yet, they are not appreciated. But the consolation is that the Judges in Nigeria are match to the devil they are contending with.
“Whether we like it or not, we have to be proud of our Justices. They are brilliant and bold and some of them appointed as Justices in other countries.
“A mistake by one Justice should not be generalised to warrant general condemnation from any quarter. They surpass Judges from other countries. They deserve commendation for resisting the evils.
“Majority of judicial officers are standing in the face of challenges and unless we are careful with the way we attack Judges, we will lose our minds and conscience”, he said.
He said, those who critisise judicial officers are at liberty to do so, but they have to be cautious in the way they go about it adding that, while critisising the judiciary, they must not abuse it.
Agabi spoke against granting of outlandish bail conditions to suspected criminals.
He noted that the law presumes them innocent until guilt is established adding that, granting of outlandish bail that will keep them in custody is unconstitutional.
According to him, “We need not to slam bail conditions that are unattainable as the principles which govern bail conditions are the same as fine governed by the constitution”.
He challenged the current AGF to use his office to improve the welfare and work conditions of judicial officers.
In his speech, the Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, said that President Bola Tinubu’s administration will address the issue of shortage of Justices at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.