Kogi State Chief Judge, Justice Nasiru Ajanah, has emphasized the need for leaders at all levels to submit themselves to the constitution of the country, noting that the judiciary was still subservient to the executive.
Speaking at the opening of 2011/2012 legal year in Lokoja yesterday, Justice Ajanah said there was nothing wrong with the country’s constitution, noting that no matter the amendments made to it, if the provisions are not complied with, the effort would come to nought.
He noted that the judiciary could not be said to be independent if it was in anyway tied to the apron strings of the executive, and stated that a situation where the head of the judiciary had to and make request for funds before that arm of government could carry out its constitutional duties did not augur well for the country.
Justice Ajanah therefore called for strict observance of section 121 (3) of the constitution which provided for financial autonomy for the judiciary, stressing that this will go a long way in strengthening the rule of law and democracy.
He also advocated the raising of the retirement age for high court judges from 65 to 70 years, that of the Supreme Court to 75 years while the magistrates and area court judges should be increase from 60 to 65 years, for better service delivery.
He disclosed that 464 cases were pending at the high court at the end of 2010/2011 legal year, while 1,381 fresh cases were assigned, bringing the total number of cases pending within the year under review to 1,210.
The chief judge maintained that at the lower court, with 38 magistrates and 148 area courts, 3,768 cases were pending, even as the magistrate courts treated 1,920 cases, leaving 1,848.
He therefore urged the courts to brace up so as to attain an average of 80 percent completion of cases in the years ahead, to retain the confidence reposed in the judiciary.