President Muhammadu Buhari has proposed a 12-month time limit for criminal cases to heard and decided upon.
Speaking at the 60th annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Buhari said justice administration in Nigerian courts moves at a “terribly slow pace”.
The president, who was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said following his loss in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential polls, it took so long for the tribunal to hear the matter and pass their verdict.
“At the end, I lost all three cases. I wondered then, why it needed to take so long to arrive at a verdict and if I had won the case, someone who did not legitimately win the election would have been in office all that time,” Buhari said.
“In 2019, I was no longer a petitioner. I had now become a respondent in the case of Atiku and Buhari and the whole process took barely six months; just over six months. What was the difference? The law had changed since my own in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
“You had now introduced time limits for election petitions. Everything must be done within a six to eight-month period.”
Buhari said since time limits have been put in place for electoral cases, criminal and civil matters should also be time-bound.
“My question then is why can’t we have a time limit for criminal cases? Why can’t we have a rule that will say a criminal trial all the way to the supreme court must not exceed 12 months? And why can’t we do the same for civil cases? Even if we say that civil cases must not go beyond between 12 and 15 months. I think that for me is stepping forward,” he said.
Touching on the issue of judge’s appointments, the president recommended that aspiring judges should take tests.
He also criticised the spate of conflicting court orders by judges, saying at least eight conflicting court orders were made by different judges within six weeks during the recent leadership crisis that rocked the All Progressives Congress (APC).