*Bamidele says terrorism has compounded burden of judicial officers
Tunde Opalana, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters has made a request for an additional N10 billion for the judicial sector in 2020 budget.
This is as the Chairman of the Committee, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) said terrorism has compounded burden if judicial officers in the country.
He said on Thursday while presenting the budget of the judicial committee to the Senate Committee on Appropriation at the National Assembly complex.
Senator Bamidele said his Committee made a request for additional N10billion for the judiciary stressing that the budget estimate was inadequate, considering the enormous responsibilities before the judiciary.
According to him, apart from the challenge thrown up by terrorism, there is the need to deploy technology in the dispensation of Justice.
“As we speak, there are people awaiting trial as a result of insecurity: call them gunmen, bandits, terrorists— whatever you call them, the truth is, there is so much additional burden on the judiciary. Of course, there must be fair hearing for suspects apprehended, and it is additional responsibility for the judiciary. So, they need more money.
The COVID has also made it imperative to deploy technology for virtual hearing. All of these demand money, we are taking of all levels of Court: from Magistrate,to the Supreme Court, aside the special Court like Arbitration.
“So, both Committees in both chambers are asking for more money for the judiciary.”
Asked about the secrecy surrounding the budget of the judiciary, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters dismissed it as a non issue as he noted that it was not peculiar to the judiciary.
“It isn’t our responsibility to monitor their expenditure but it is important that whatever is allocated under the National Judicial Commission is judiciously used.
“The secrecy you talked about isn’t peculiar to the judiciary. No one is asking about the budget of the Department of State Serviced or National Intelligence Agency.
“Their budget (judiciary) isn’t up to one percent of the entire budget. We may choose to sensationalise it, but public interest is better served if the budget of the judiciary is at least one percent of the entire budget. We need a well funded judiciary so that it’s independence isn’t compromised.”