By Kenneth Atavti
Immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen has warned that unless the Supreme Court of Nigeria is adequately funded, the apex Court may soon at best end up a glorified High Court.
The former CJN lamented that Justices of the apex court have been suffering in silence since 2008 when their salaries and emoluments were last reviewed by the government.
Onnoghen, who spoke in Abuja, at the public presentation of Nigeria’s first law book on Construction Law, revealed that some Justices of the apex court still live in rented accommodations in unsuitable areas in the Federal Capital Territory.
Besides poor residential accommodation issue, the former CJN explained that chambers of the Supreme Court Justices are unbefitting of their status and appealed that the court be properly funded to enable the Justices perform optimally in a conducive atmosphere.
He recalled that while in office as CJN, he headed a team comprising Attorney General of the Federation AGF as well as Solicitor General of the Federation SGF which prepared a new welfare scheme on the order of the federal government and lamented that since his exit, the Welfare Scheme Report which would have enhanced the condition of service of the Justices had been jettisoned.
He therefore pleaded that funding of Judiciary should be immediately looked into with a view to improving on it because of the critical role of the Judiciary in nation building.
Maintaining that the Supreme Court is still been overworked with Justices bearing the brunt, Justice Onnoghen canvassed that appeal cases should not get to Supreme Court as of right but by leave of the court to eliminate congestion in the workload of the court.
“The Judiciary is not Nigeria’s problem but bad leadership. There must be a rethink on issues affecting Judiciary, because without a strong legal profession, you cannot talk of the rule of law”, he said.