The Judiciary of Delta State, like other state judiciaries, renders very important services to the government and people of Delta State, first and foremost, to the entire people of Nigeria and to all and sundry. The main service that the judiciary renders is dispensation of justice. Two categories of government functionaries are charged with the responsibility of dispensation of justice in the court system. The first category is judicial officers, both of the superior courts and of the lower bench. The second category is court employees.
The main service rendered by the judicial officers is pursuant to the provision of section 272 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. This section provides under sub section 1 that subject to the provision for the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court under section 251, and other provisions of the Constitution, the High Court of a state shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil proceedings in which the existence or extent of a legal right, power, duty, liability, privilege, interest, obligation or claim is in issue or to hear and determine any criminal proceedings involving or relating to any penalty, forfeiture, punishment or other liability in respect of an offence committed by any person. This provision refers strictly to the High Court of a state, but by the provisions of the law of the state, judges of the lower bench and revenue court judges are enabled to perform the same functions at lower capacity.
Court employees are government functionaries in the judicial service who perform supportive functions to judicial officers in the court system. They comprise of court administrators (registrars) and other staff of the judiciary. The role of court employees in the administration of justice is complimentary and supportive to the role of judicial officers, but their functions are also very vital. They handle the day-to-day management of court processes, the general administration of the court including collection of government revenue and management of fiscal resources. They assist litigants and members of the public who have business with the court in sorting out themselves as appropriate so that they can have access to justice and speedy dispensation of justice. They assist members of the public to administer the estate of their deceased who died either testate or intestate.
The State Judiciary is the segment of the State Public Service under the Judicial Service, properly known under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the State Judicature. The State judicial service is a very large segment of the State Public Service. The Judicial Service of Delta State has the following organisations.
(i) The High Court of Delta State.
(ii) The Customary Court of Appeal of Delta State, and
(iii) The Judicial Service Commission of Delta State.
Each of these organisations has its own functions. Primarily the functions of the State High Court and the State Customary Court of Appeal are administration of justice in circumstances peculiar to the legal existence of each of the courts. Then the primary function of the State Judicial Service Commission is general supervision and control of all the organisations under the judicial service in terms of recruitment, promotion and discipline of staff.
The Chief Registrar (or the Secretary, in respect of the J.S.C. Secretariat) sees to the day-to-day administration and management of the human and material resources of the organisation. This is done mainly through the Department of Administration and Personnel management, the Department of Finance and Accounts and the Department of Planning, Research and Statistics of the Office of the Chief Registrar of the Court in question, (or of the office of the Secretary to the J.S.C., as the case may be). These Departments, especially the Department of Administration and Personnel Management, work hand in hand with the Judicial Service Commission to realize the administrative and management goals of the Judicature. The Department of Administration and Personnel Management is responsible for recruitment, promotion and discipline of staff. It is responsible for the management of personnel and the general administration of the organisation in the court (or the Secretariat of the J.S.C., as the case may be). It is charged with the responsibility of supplies, budget and interpretation of the service rules and regulations; training and development of staff and other miscellaneous services, including inter service and inter department relations.
The Department of Finance and Accounts is responsible for receipt, disbursement and accounting for Government funds in the court (or in the secretariat of the Judicial Service Commission as the case may be). It is charged with the responsibility of reconciliating the accounts of the court (or the commission, as the case may be) with the monthly treasury unit. It assists in examining revenue collection procedure to ensure compliance, and it prepares final accounts and monthly transcripts. It complies cash flow forecasts and projections; prepares periodic/annual financial reports of the court (or the Commissions Secretariat as the case may be) and ensure timely submission of monthly financial statements to the Accountant-General. This department implements the approved accounting systems for the organisation, advises on the control and management of funds, investments, loans, and guarantees the court (or the commissionâ€™s secretariat, as the case may be). The Department of Finance and Accounts interprets Financial Regulations. It works hand in hand with the Department of Administration and Personnel Management and other departments to realize the overall goal of the organisation, with regard to Administration and Management. The Department of Planning, Research and Statistics is charged with the responsibility of developing plans (rolling medium and perspective), for the court (or the Commissions Secretariat, as the case may be), and monitors and evaluates the implementation of the organizational plan. The Department of Planning, Research and Statistics is the Secretariat of the Tenders Boards of the court (or the Commissions Secretariat, as the case may be).
The department researchers into sectors over which the judiciary has jurisdiction; and it researches into the internal organisation and operational modalities of the Judicial Service. It sorts and monitors the performance and efficiency target for the various departments and sub-divisions of the court and its staff. It constantly collects and processes data and statistics relating to the court to which it belongs (or to the Judicial Service Commission Secretariat, as the case may be). The department manages the records information resources of the organisation (Data Bank, Computer Service, Registry, Library, etc). It liaises with relevant bodies outside the judiciary. In addition to the Administrative and Management functions of organizational administration stated above, the Chief Registrar carries out other functions under the Department of Litigation and Court Services; and Department of Probate. Under the Department of Probate, the estates of deceased people are administered. Under the Department of Litigation and court services, the Chief Registrar controls/coordinates the activities of all the Judicial Divisions and Magisterial Districts and other units of the court through out the State which come under the court. Every sub-organisation of the court through out the State (such as Judicial Division, Magisterial Districts, Revenue Court Zones, etc) has a Registrar-in-charge who is the representative of the Chief Registrar in the Station. Such officer handle both administrative/management schedules vis-a-vis litigation and allied matters in the out-stations and give constant period reports to the Headquarters Office of the Chief Registrar. Through these departments the Chief Registrar exercises administrative control over all the staff of the court under him, including Judicial Officers of the lower Bench (Magistrates, Revenue Court Judges, etc). However the exercise of administrative control over Judges of the Superior Courts (High Court Judges, Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal, etc) is the preserve of the Head of Court (the Chief Judge with regard to the State customary Court of Appeal with regard to the Customary Court of Appeal of the State.