Civil procedure slow, inefficient, must be reformed — Agbakoba

A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has called for reform of Nigeria’s judicial process, saying it is currently slow and inefficient.

For decades, civil litigation in Nigeria has been hampered by several factors that work against the goals of justice and which Agbakoba says have created devices to deal with while achieving little.

“Lawyers get up in the morning, put on their wigs and gowns and go to court. You would think they are doing something important or useful. Instead, in court, lawyers deploy, exploit and manipulate these devices – by devices I mean devices such as “adjournment”, “appeal”, “date”, “extension of time”, “jurisdiction” , “mention”, and “objections” etc.

“Lawyers on opposite sides may disagree on the merits of their respective cases, but they agree on the frequent invocation of these mantras.

“The judges, who are of course lawyers and most have practiced this sleight of hand for decades before stepping onto the bench, watch with bewilderment, sympathy, empathy or sympathy,” he said.

He said that sometimes, chagrined by the damage lawyers’ magic is doing to justice, some judges wish they could step in to stop it all.

“But they feared they couldn’t, because that meant stepping into the arena; a species of witchcraft condemned by a long line of their illustrious common law ancestors.

“The mantra seemed to be: once you go up (to the bench), you must never go down (to the arena),” he said.

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