Federal High Court Of Nigeria 2020/2021 Legal Year Starting On Good Steps
The Federal High Court of Nigeria 2020/2021 Legal Year ceremonies kick-started with a mass on Tuesday, 15th December, 2020 at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Maitama Abuja
Rev. Father Celestine Ejim, the Parish Priest of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, preached on mentoring young Lawyers to value hard work and speaking the truth always at the well attended Mass. Muslim worship took place at Al-Nur Mosque, Wuse, 11 Abuja simultaneously as well.
After the religious activities, a special court session to mark the commencement of the Federal High Court of Nigeria Legal Year 2020/2021 took place at the Headquarters of the Federal High Court of Nigeria.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s program seemed doubtful that the ceremony would even hold as usual.
The pandemic has obviously challenged the first year of the Chief Judge’s administration as a number of activities that had earlier been planned were hitched/obstructed.
Despite the hitches, the administration of Justice John Terhemba Tsoho has been implementing its set objectives as circumstances permit as his administration has not been overwhelmed.
The issuance of COVID-19 Practice Directions to assist Government’s efforts in lowering the pandemic curve of infection while at the same time ensuring the robust Administration of Justice.
On the Edo and Ondo States election, Practice Directions were equally issued to guide the conduct of pre-election matters aimed at forestalling the indiscriminate granting of injunctive orders; ensure that cases are heard within the immediate jurisdiction where the cause of action arose, save in exceptional circumstances.
Justice John Terhemba Tsoho focus on effective administration of Justice, welfare of Judges and staff and fine tuning overall court management of the court cannot be emphasize.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020/2021 Legal Year which was initially slated to hold in Lagos State had to hold in the Federal High Court Headquarters, Abuja. The Chief Judge hopes the Lagos Judicial Division will be reconsidered in the nearest future as a potential host.
As part of his welfare proposal, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho gave a brief situation report of the Ultra Modern 20-Courtroom Complex on Bourdillion Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. He said that the building as attained at least 90% completion. He said the eventual commissioning will greatly ease the difficulty of accommodation in the Lagos Judicial Division and undoubtedly bring psychological and physical uplift to Judges, Staff and the litigating public.
In similar vein, the Chief Judge also gave a brief about the ongoing extension wing of the Headquarters which is almost completed. It is expected to provide a spacious and befitting hall for the hosting of events and provide sufficient offices for the Court’s Clinic and Administrative Department. He said that project will ease office accommodation squeeze in the Headquarters.
On the Law Reports, the Chief Judge intimate that the Federal High Court of Nigeria Law Report 2013 -2014 (volumes 1 & 2) which was launched in the course of the 2020/2021 Conference. He informed the audience that the Federal High Court of Nigeria is up to date with acquisition of the Nigeria Weekly Law Reports and he has approved the purchase of Parts 1732 – 1758, being the last edition for the year 2020.
On the staff strength of the Court, he said that with the support of the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the staff strength has been bolstered with over a hundred officers who are ably qualified and skilled in different fields of learning and competence.
On employing technology to achieve access to Justice, he said that the Court on its own made dire efforts to facilitate remote proceedings and such facilities have been provided in 5 courts in Abuja and Lagos respectively. 3 in Port Harcourt and 1 in Gusau; they are also installing equipment for public use in the Litigation Sections of Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt respectively.
Justice John Terhemba Tsoho also assured the Court of his administration strives to achieve the best despite continued dropping of budget allocations to the Judiciary.
The 2019/2020 Legal Year that closed in July 2020 witnessed a total of 10,464 cases filed, comprising of 2,851 Civil Cases, 2,599 Criminal cases, 3,049 Motions and 1,965 Fundamental Rights applications. The total number of cases disposed of during that year was 8,585 cases; with a total of 123,513 pending at the end of the Legal Year.
He thanked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice (Dr) Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed for his understanding and unflinching support towards the stable growth of the Federal High Court of Nigeria and the Judiciary in General.
This is particularly reflected in the leveraging on technology for enhanced dispensation of Justice. In this regard, the Judicial Information Technology Policy Committee (JITPCOM) has been assigned that task of encouraging and assisting the Federal and State Judiciaries to embrace the use of technology that meets with best International Standards for greatly improved justice system.
Justice John Terhemba Tsoho also expressed his appreciation to the National Judicial Council for providing passionate moral and material support especially towards the implementation of the Judicial Information Technology Policy Committee (JITPCOM). The Federal High Court of Nigeria has so far benefited from this project by the retrofitting of the Federal High Court No. 1 Abuja (The Chief Judge’s Court) wholly funded by the National Judicial Council.
He expressed his profound appreciation to the Federal Judicial Service Commission; the Senate and House of Committees on the Judiciary and their support to the Federal High Court.
During the 36th Annual Federal High Court Judges’ Conference, the Chief Judge said that this year’s conference was to hold in Lagos but unfortunately could not be held as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic which also made it impossible for the 2020/2012 conference to hold at the usual time in September.
He said that the process of appointing new Judges has commenced and effort will be made to ensure that there is equitable representation on the Bench of the Court. He urged Lordship and staff to put in more efforts to tackle the upsurge that will follow the eventual control of the Virus, with regard to increase in the number of cases and attendant services.
The Chief Judge encouraged the Lordships to always be wary of actions that will put them and the Court in bad light.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria said that various sums of money have been extended to some retired Judges as health assistance for the first time.
This was disclosed during the End of the Year, Retirement and Merit Awards Ceremonies to mark the 2020/2021 Legal Year.
Three officers received the Chief Judge Merit Award 2020.They are Dr Adaira Keazor, a Senior Medical Officer on GL14 was the overall winner while Mrs Jacinta Adanma Onyenebo, a Chief Confidential Secretary on GL14 emerged as the 1st Runner-up and Mrs Samson Adesoji Adebiyi, a Chief Executive Officer Litigation on GL14 became the 2nd Runner-up.
The Committee further recommended an increment of N50,000 across the board, in favour of the Award Winners.
As part of his welfare package, the Chief Judge made available, some food items to all grades of staff as a means of providing succour to their families at this festive period.
Trophy and medals won by the Federal High Court of Nigeria Sports Club was presented to the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Terhemba Tsoho while gifts were presented to the Retired Staff.