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BRIEF ON THE NASARAWA STATE JUDICIARY

BRIEF ON THE NASARAWA STATE JUDICIARY

Anthony ADGIDZI

The Nasarawa State Judiciary is the third arm of Nasarawa State Government, the other two being the Executive and the Legislature are complimenting each other in good governance and quality service to the people of the state. The Judiciary constitutionally comprises of three Units; the High Court of Justice, the Sharia and the Customary Courts of Appeal, working together to ensure efficient judicial system in the state as well as sustaining governance through effective administration of Justice.

The judiciary, like any other bodies also has a regulatory body known as the Judicial Service Commission, an uncompromising body that deals with the issues of appointment, promotion and disciplinary judicial staff in the state.

The three units of the Judiciary, the High Court, Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal, though a single entity, yet function distinctively.

Each Unit has it’s Head of Court, which are as follows; Justice Aisha Bashir Aliyu, the Chief Judge of High Court of Justice, the Grand Khadi as the Head of Sharia Court of Appeal, presently headed by Hon. Kadi Abdullahi Mohammad; and the President, Customary Court of Appeal also headed by Hon. Justice Emmanuel Osabo Osagede.

However, there is no gain saying the fact that, the Chief Judge is the Head of the Judiciary and also the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission, who seat on all maters that affect judicial officers in the state.

The Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal are majorly courts of second instances, where cases before them are those on appeal. These courts are not only an integral part of the justice system, it is also an important part in Justice delivery, and those are court where common people on the street gets Justice according to their native believe.

It is hope that the sharia and customary courts will take it pride of place in administration of Justice.The High Court of Justice is a court of trial and appellate jurisdiction, that handles cases both on first trial and on appeals. The High Court of Justice has unlimited jurisdiction over the subject matters and persons that it has jurisdiction over.

For proper appreciation of the nature, functions and or operations of the Nasarawa State Judiciary, it is most appropriate to look at its constituent units.Against the forgoing, it is important to note that the creation of Nasarawa State in October, 1996, gave birth to the establishment of High Count, which formed part of what was Plateau State High Court. With the creation of the State, the State High Court was established.

The pioneer Chief Judge of the State was Hon. Justice Suleiman Galadima (now a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria).The State High Court as already stated, has original and appellate jurisdiction in both Civil and criminal matters. Its original jurisdiction is provided for under Section 272(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

The State High Court hears and determines appeals from decisions of Magistrates and Area Courts in all criminal matters. It also hears and determines appeals from District Courts in all civil cases.

In addition, appeals from Area Courts in all civil cases other than customary or Islamic personal law or cases, lie to the High Court.A Panel of two or three Judges of the High Court is usually constituted for the purpose of determining appeals from the lower courts aforementioned.

The High Court of the State has a single Judicial Division, with five High Courts cited in Lafia, the State capital. For the purpose of convenience to litigants, two High Courts, presided over by resident High Court Judges, are cited at Keffi with the most senior judge as the assigning judge.

Similarly, there is one High Court Judge each at Akwanga and Nasarawa, both of whom are also resident judges. Noteworthy also is that, there are presently five High Courts at Mararraban Gurku with the most senior as assigning judge.

Administratively, the High Court has six major Directorates; Directorates of Personnel; Magistrates’ and Area Courts’ Affairs; Litigation and Library Services; Research, Planning and Statistics; Probate Matters and Finance.

The Probate Directorate was only recently established in November 2013 in order to ease the problems associated with the processing of Letters of Administration, probate and sundry matters in the State.‎

Each of these Directorates, with the exception of Finance, is headed by a Deputy Chief Registrar while the Chief Registrar is the Administrative Head and Chief Accounting officer of the state judiciary.END::::