A bill for an Act to alter the 1999 Constitution to allow judges of the High Court elevated to the Court of Appeal to conclude criminal matters despite such elevation, passed second reading in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bill, if it becomes law, will provide quick dispensation of justice, Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom), the sponsor of the bill, said.
He also said when passed, it would help in the completion of criminal matters by judges of High Court before their elevation to the Court of Appeal.
The lawmaker said a criminal case being tried by a judge of a High Court should be allowed to be dispensed notwithstanding his promotion to the Appeal Court.
The Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulaka, in his contribution, said it was a common practice that judges would be elevated whenever there was vacancy.
He however added that the bill was important so as to forestall the decision of the court from sending any criminal case back to the drawing board because of an elevated judge handling the case.
“The decision of the court often set us back to where we had left. It is in this view to give liberty to the judge handling criminal case in the High Court,” he said.
He added that since a judge had been elevated to Appeal Court, it was only imperative to allow the judge return to the High Court to continue hearing the criminal matters.
Abdulrasaq Namadas (APC-Adamawa), in his contribution, said three months should be given to the elevated judge to handle and dispense the case.
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He said this was necessary in a bid to expedite action on dispensation of justice, stressing that the bill should be considered as a positive revolution in the country’s criminal justice system.
Solomon Bob (PDP-Rivers) said it was an interesting bill because it had to do with dispensation of justice, adding that “justice delayed is justice denied.”
He said the bill should be looked into to address the anomaly in the criminal justice system.
After debate, the House passed the bill for second reading and asked the constitution review committee to further look into it.