The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, has lamented the rising number of litigations in the country.
He said apart from several new crimes being committed which had contributed to the steady rise of court cases in the country, political cases were taking a monumental toll on courts’ dockets across the country.
Ariwoola disclosed this at the swearing-in of nine justices of the court of appeal in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said, “Today’s ceremony is an indication of the times that we are currently in. Several novel crimes are being committed in the country that has now made litigations go on a steady rise. Political cases, especially, are taking a monumental toll on our dockets.
“Indeed, the times we are in are not pleasant, to say the least. No court in the land is spared of this. We are constantly on our toes and the dockets are ever-rising in response to the challenges of the time.”
He lamented that the situation had placed Nigeria among countries with a large number of litigations in the world.
Ariwoola, however, advocated for alternative dispute resolution to save the courts from “unnecessary burden and depletion of both human and material resources.”
He said, “This underscores the undisputed fact that Nigeria continuously ranks among the most litigious countries in the world. I strongly believe it is high time we began to imbibe the culture of less litigation and more alternative dispute resolution mechanisms so that our courts can be freed of unnecessary burden and depletion of both human and material resources.”
Advising the justices, Ariwoola enjoined them to flee from irresistible gifts from high-profile cases, adding that they would affect their reputations and career progression.
He said, “Many high-profile cases would definitely come to you on appeal; they may likely come in some juicy and irresistible gifts that are often intended to dent your reputation and integrity. I admonish Your Lordships to flee from such disguised temptations because your reputation and integrity matter much and count enormously in your rise to honour and fame in life.”
He urged them to conduct their duties in accordance with the law of the country, adding that with their current position, they would be subjected to more public scrutiny than ever.
Ariwoola said, “You must, against all odds, conduct your affairs within the ambit of the law and the oath that has just been administered to you. The level of public scrutiny of your conduct will, henceforth, assume astronomical dimension because you have willingly taken up an appointment that will strategically place you perennially in the eye of the storm.”