Appraisal Of Judicial Reforms Towards An Efficient Administration Of Justice In Nigeria
Certain reforms had been put in place to address Nigeria’s quest towards an efficient administration of justice in the country. The reason for this quest is because there is the problem of undue delay in determining cases as a result of the legal processes being usually very slow and complex. Two major reforms carried out with the aim of addressing this problem had been the passing into law of the Administration of criminal justice Act (ACJA) 2015, and the Evidence Act 2011. In many instances, these laws had shown innovations that make for speedy disposal of cases at least when compared to their previous kindred legislations. The Administration of criminal justice Act (ACJA) 2015 for instance, merged the provisions of the two principal legislations governing criminal procedure in Nigeria; the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) into one principal federal Act which is intended to apply uniformly in all federal courts across the entire Federation and in respect of federal offences. The Act preserves the existing criminal procedures, but also introduces new innovative provisions. As one practical example amongst several discussed in this work, the Act clearly provides that trial of a defendant is to proceed from day-to day until the conclusion of the trial. This is clearly a new and innovative attempt to ensure speedy criminal trials. While the Act yet builds upon the existing framework of criminal justice administration in the country, it however, filled the gaps observed in these laws over the course of several decades. The Evidence Act 2011, on the other hand, repealed the old Evidence Act, Cap E14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, which was basically the same with the Evidence Act 1943 which came into force on 1st June, 1945. The justice administrative system in the country got a big boost with the coming into operation of this Act which amongst other innovations as discussed in the research, makes the coast clear for the admission of digital and electronic evidence. The days are gone when such would be rejected on accounts that their admissibility were not provided for under the law. The research adopts both a doctrinal and teleological approach to research in analysing all the issues discussed in the research work. As observed by the researcher, notwithstanding these innovations, there are still noticeable areas of both prospects and challenges for justice administration in Nigeria. The prospects in Information and Communication Technology (I.C.T) to enhance an efficient justice administration cannot be denied. Certain delays or inconveniencies in the justice administrative system can be addressed using I.C.T. Similarly the challenge posed by Legal Pluralism, which exist as a result of the introduction of British laws into Nigeria to co-exist with the indigenous systems of customary and Islamic Laws, thereby producing a tripartite system of laws with all its complications, needs to be addressed. As posited by the researcher, what is both necessary and desirable to address this challenge is the need for a deliberate aim, especially at the national level, to foster the eventual harmonization of the principles of English Common Law and statutes with those of locally enacted laws and of Customary Law/Islamic Law into a general law for the whole country. The researcher concludes by recommending that as the society keeps changing at dazzling pace, the National Assembly must constantly review and update the laws. This is because we may soon find ourselves lagging seriously behind again, where reforms carried out no longer meet the needs of present or future realities of justice administration..