Congestion: We’ve 39,526 Pending Cases, Appeal Court President Cries Out

ABUJA -The President, Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban Mensen, has cried out over the outrageous number of appeals pending at the appellate court.

Specifically, Justice Dongban Mensen disclosed that a total number of 39,526 cases are pending as at August 31, 2023…..CONTINUE READING HERE

The PCA made the disclosure, Monday, at the official commencement of the 2023/2024 legal year of the Court of Appeal.

“The Court still has a total of 39,526 Appeals pending as at 31th of August, 2023.

“This is an increase from 34,037 pending in the Court in the 2021/2022 Legal Year” Justice Dongban Mensen stated.

However, as custodians of justice, the PCA assured that the Court will continue to discharge its responsibilities by ensuring that appeals are heard timeously with utmost dedication, commitment and diligence.

In the period under review, she revealed that the Court encountered a deficit of 18 Justices, but nonetheless, the remaining Justices kept the wheels of justice rolling.

“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 Appeals and disposed of 5,617 Motions. While 1,030 of these Appeals were dismissed and 10,381 were allowed, the PCA stated.

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As a result of the shortfall of 18 Justices of the Court, special panels were convened to alleviate the strain on heavily burdened Divisions, she explained.

According to the PCA, a total of 484 Appeals/Motions were taken in 10 Divisions of the Court.

She added that she special panels disposed of 232 Appeals, while 128 Appeals were reserved for judgment.

However, Dongban Mensen stated that “Special Panels are a serious constraint on the resources of the Court”.

The PCA posited that the selection of cases for these special panels, particularly those of urgent and critical nature, demonstrated the Court’s obligation to maintain the integrity of the country’s judicial system.

Further more, Justice Dongban Mensen disclosed that during the 2023 vacation, three special panels were established to address time bound appeals.

“The Hon. Justices were deluged with Election appeals from the various Divisions. Their Lordships heard and determined a total of 87 Election Appeals from the various Divisions of the Court, comprising of 8 pre-election appeals, 48 Interlocutory appeals from the Tribunals and 14 substantive election appeals” the PCA said.

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She recalled 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, 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.

More so, she revealed that a total of 557 petitions associated with the State Houses of Assembly, and 83 Gubernatorial Elections petitions are being disposed off.

Justice Dongban Mensen, expressed dismay that despite their commitment and hardwork, Justices of the appellate court are most often than not, villified and insulted.

“We endure hardship, gross underpayment of due entitlements, unwarranted intimidations, insults, etc yet we remain undaunted.

“We must not however be taken for granted. There is a limit to unappreciated endurance. We only ask for what is due to us and no more” the PCA warned.

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In his speech, the AGF and Minister of Justice, Prince 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.

Also speaking, former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN) said that Nigeria’s continued survival greatly depends on the transparency of judicial officers in the discharge of their judicial functions.

Speaking on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), Agabi noted that, in spite of the contributions and sacrifices of judicial officers to the survival of the country, they are still been unwarantedly attacked and criticised.

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 ematch to the devil they are contending with” Agabi said…..CONTINUE READING HERE