Speaker of the House of Representatives has charged the Public Complaints Commission to ensure that teeming Nigerians who cannot afford the high cost and long process of the Nigerian judicial system for resolving disputes get speedy and effective justice delivery.
Addressing the commissioners of the agency, led by the chief commissioner, Hon Chille Igbawua, when they paid a courtesy visit to his office Wednesday, the speaker said the role of the commission as the ombudsman of Nigerians is an important one that must be discharged effectively, especially with the high cost of litigation in the nation’s courts.
He stated, “Most of us will attest to the fact that litigation these days is very, very expensive. They are painfully expensive and that the culture of ombudsman is a culture that is rooted in democracy, that virtually all known democracies practiced, and even though some have exited it, it is still a very dominant feature of some advanced democracies out there and we cannot run away from it.
“In view of the fact that we have quite a humongous population in this country, we have to ensure that we improve on the speed of justice delivery. As it is said, justice delayed is justice denied. In most cases, justice is indivisible; once it is justice to A, it will be justice to B and if you follow through litigations, apart from the fact that they are expensive, once you kick start the case within the Nigeria judicial system, only God knows when you are going to exit from the case.
“If citizens had other alternatives and avenues through which they can send their grievances to be looked into, we will be able to short circuit this route to justice which is painfully expensive and very long and I am happy you are stepping into this responsibility.”
Acknowledging that the commission is facing challenges that are related to funding, he noted with displeasure that funding is a general challenge being faced in the country because of total reliance on the public purse for income without any value to show for the funds disbursed and lack of wealth generation.
While urging the commission to synergise with the House Committee on Public Petitions so that some petitions that are referred to the House that could be properly handled by the commission would easily be transmitted and vice versa, the speaker also assured the commissioners that the National Assembly will continue to push for higher funding for the agency in view of the huge responsibility it has to dispense justice.
Earlier, in his remarks, chief commissioner of the PCC, Hon Chile Igbawua, said the commission had been able to resolve some problems that had been lingering and impeding the success of the agency.
Among others, he disclosed that all commissioners are now operating fully from their states unlike when they used to operate from Abuja, sensitisation across the states to make the people more aware of the functions of the agency have been intensified, leading to more complaints that are being resolved free and justice dispensed, strategy plans designed and put into immediate operation and welfare policy to boost morale of the staff and increase productivity undergoing implementation.
He also added that an e-system to ensure faster receipt and dispensation of complaints and tracking is in the works, as well as systemic investigations of agencies and organisations to forestall complaints, especially in areas with high petitions against them such as local government systems, NIMC as relating to its closing date for registration and problems relating to TSA where monies allocated to a particular agency cannot be accessed because another has taken it.