Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, has tasked judges of the court to fast track the hearing of political cases that are pending before them.
Justice Abdu-Kafarati gave the charge, on Monday, at the occasion of the special court session to herald the commencement of the court’s 2018/2019 legal year in Abuja.
The Chief Judge noted that the speedy determination of such suits would enable political gladiators to know their fate before the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
“It is extremely important that all political cases that may affect any of the parties which are still pending in any of our courts be concluded without further waste of time to afford all candidates the opportunity to pursue their political ambitions.
“Honourable judges before whom such cases are pending must endeavour to conclude them before the end of October, 2018.”
Kafarati also disclosed that he had issued a circular to his colleagues, urging them not to grant any interim orders ex-parte in any political cases brought before them.
He said by declining to grant such interim orders, “controversies in political cases can be reduced when the court takes a decision after hearing all the parties in the case.”
Justice Abdu-Kafarati also advised his colleagues to deliver justice without fear of favour, saying, “It is therefore your duty that the society is moulded in accordance with the rule of law and the Constitution.”
Reviewing the performance of the court in the outgoing year, the CJ revealed: “Statistics received from our various courts around the country show that between the end of the last legal year and July this year, the Federal High Court recorded 17,076 new cases. 99,796 cases were carried over from last year.
“The two subheads put together amount to 116,842 cases for the period out of which 15,076 were disposed off. At the beginning of this legal year, we have about 191,766 cases still pending in our courts,” adding, “The court has done extremely well in the discharge of its duties to the litigants and lawyers.”
Delivering an address at the occasion, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), represented by the Solicitor-Feneral of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Akpata, urged urges to always strike a balance between the personal rights of litigants and the overal good of society.
The AGF noted that the judiciary should play its role actively as an agent of social change and re-orientation “without necessarily sacrificing its core mandate of protecting the rights of all individuals and institutions in an efficient and human manner.”
Malami appealed to the Federal High Court authorities to exempt Federal Government agencies from default fees, saying the payment of the fees affects the government due to funding inadequacy and delay in release of budgetary funds.