The Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) says there is a need to overhaul the framework for enforcement of court orders in order to make the process less cumbersome and less cost intensive.
In its communique issued during its annual conference held at the the NBA secretariat, Abuja, it called on the country’s Judiciary to establish its own Enforcement Unit to speedily enforce its judgments and orders.
The conference also advocated that the role of Attorneys-General in the enforcement of judgements must be reviewed to ensure that they do not act as stumbling block in the enforcement process.
It particularly cited Section 84 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act, recommending that the provision be amended to remove the requirement of prior consent of the Attorneys-General before enforcement of judgments.
They added that legal practitioners who frustrate enforcement of court judgements and orders should be sanctioned.
Participants and speakers also decried political interference in judicial functions and urged the Executive and Legislature to desist from such acts and commit to obey court orders.
Other proposals made include the institution of criminal proceedings against those who disobey court orders.
To promote the rule of law and foreign direct investment, the Section also noted that arbitral awards should be enforced automatically and without recourse to the courts.
It added that the Federal Government should comply with all pending judgments of municipal and sub-regional courts among others.
While also seeking an improved appellate process, the body says there is need to quicken the appellate process to ensure that appeals do not act as a cog in the wheel of enforcement of judgments.
The theme of the conference was “The Undermining of Judicial Authority in a Democracy.” The event was attended by about 600 delegates comprising judges, legal practitioners, justice sector stakeholders and members of the diplomatic corps.
The conference was declared open by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola while Justice John Inyang Okoro also of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, delivered the Keynote address.
The plenary sessions x-rayed several topics, namely Disobedience to court orders and the slide to a state of anarchy; Strengthening judicial authority in a democracy through effective and sustainable strategies; The impediments to seamless execution of court orders in Nigeria -Any way out?; Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) on human rights violation by defunct Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other specialized units – the process, enforcement of the panels’ decisions/rulings, challenges, achievements and lessons learnt, and Disruptive approach to public safety and access to justice using technology.
Among the highlights of the conference were an Award to the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata for his uncommon leadership and service to the Bar as well as the launch of a one-stop socio-legal App named ‘JustEase’. The App is designed as an avenue for effective citizen engagement, security intelligence, crime and rights violation tracking, as well as a digital evidence bank for the judiciary.