Why Judicial Appointment and Disciplinary Systems of Lower Courts must be Reformed
In this special edition of the Justice Observatory Journal, Access to Justice examines the framework for appointing and disciplining lower court judicial officers in two jurisdictions – Lagos State Judiciary and the Judiciary of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
This report is from that study. It reveals that, with respect to appointing and disciplining lower court judges, the two jurisdictions run on procedural templates that are weak, manipulable and dated; as such, they cannot sustain the drive for stronger, independent, highly competent and accountable lower courts. The report shows where the fault-lines are, and argues the need for significant reform of the current procedures applied in these areas, similar to the way appointment and disciplinary systems for high courts have been revised, and in line with globally evolving standards for appointing judges and holding them accountable.
The Nigerian Judiciary is riding against a rough tide of public opinion at this time, and the Judiciary cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in its quest to restore public confidence in its branch of government. This it can do by overhauling its systems of operation at both the national and state levels. This report calls on the Judicial Service Commission of each of the 36 States (alongside the Judicial Service Committee of the FCT), to play a major part in this process of redemption, and to rise to the challenge of strengthening their systems of appointment and discipline in order to improve their courts’ ability to serve their communities more conscientiously, ethically and competently and strengthen the perception of courts as true vehicles for the delivery of justice.