President Muhammadu Buhari who spoke at the 60th annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), proposed a 12-month time limit for criminal cases to be heard and decided upon.
Recalling how long it took the tribunal to hear and pass verdict on the lawsuit he filed following his loss in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential polls, President Buhari who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said someone who did not legitimately win the election would have been in office all the time the case was in court.
He added that since there is now a time limit for electoral cases, criminal and civil matters should also be time-bound.
“At the end, I lost all three cases. I wondered then, why it needed to take so long to arrive at a verdict and if I had won the case, someone who did not legitimately win the election would have been in office all that time,” Buhari said.
“In 2019, I was no longer a petitioner. I had now become a respondent in the case of Atiku and Buhari and the whole process took barely six months; just over six months. What was the difference? The law had changed since my own in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
“You had now introduced time limits for election petitions. Everything must be done within a six to eight-month period.
“My question then is why can’t we have a time limit for criminal cases? Why can’t we have a rule that will say a criminal trial all the way to the supreme court must not exceed 12 months? And why can’t we do the same for civil cases? Even if we say that civil cases must not go beyond between 12 and 15 months. I think that for me is stepping forward.”
President Buhari who further condemned the conflicting judgements that were passed during the conflict that rocked the All Progressives Congress (APC) few weeks ago, also recommended that aspiring judges should take tests before being appointed.