The Acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has called on state governments to domesticate and implement the Criminal Justice Act.
This according to him, is to effectively resolve the challenge of prison congestion and delay in courts.
Represented by the Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, at a judicial colloquium on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in Abuja, the CJN noted that the application of the Federal Law through the state Houses of Assembly, would fast track judicial decisions which would in turn protect and empower citizens.
Furthermore, she revealed that 70% of the prison population in the country are awaiting trial; a situation she says speaks volumes of the system.
However, after years of mere talk, the judiciary have once again swung open the doors of reforms in the justice system, while also hoping that the government would invest in it more, so as to meet growing demands.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has called on Nigerians to allow President Muhammadu Buhari appoint a substantive Chief Justice of his choice.
Justice Onnoghen dissociated himself from the league of citizens purportedly mounting pressure on the President to confirm his appointment as the substantive CJN.
In a statement issued on Thursday by his spokesman, Awassam Bassey, the acting Chief Justice noted that President Buhari does not need any threat or ultimatum to perform his constitutional duties.
Although he appreciated the interest of Nigerians towards the appointment, he noted that issuing an ultimatum smacks of disrespect for the exalted office of the President.
Appeal For Caution
“Honourable Justice Onnoghen believes (that) the President does not need any threat or ultimatum to perform his constitutional duties and therefore dissociates himself from those individuals and groups making such demands on the President.
“However, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Nigerian Judiciary sincerely appreciate the interest of Nigerians towards the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria to oversee the affairs of the judiciary as the third arm of government, but believes that issuing an ultimatum to Mr President appears to be going too far and smacks of disrespect for the exalted Office of the President.
“The Acting Chief Justice therefore appeals for caution on the issue of the appointment of Chief Justice of Nigeria as Mr President goes about his constitutional duties, especially considering the fact that the given time for him to act as Chief Justice of Nigeria has not expired.
“In conclusion, the Acting Chief Justice wishes to thank all Nigerians for their support and continued prayers while calling on them to back the Federal Government in the fight to make the country a better place for all,” the statement said.
Acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, says the time has come for the judiciary to be more open to the public, especially through the media.
This according to him would encourage public enlightenment while boosting the confidence of the public in the judiciary, as well as removing any negative perception about the arm of government.
He stated that while there is a growing trend of some unscrupulous lawyers discussing matters before the court in public, judicial officers should not fail to invoke their powers of contempt where such utterances occur.
Onnoghen made the comments at a two-day annual end of year conference aimed at x-raying the performance of the court in the year 2016 as well as planning for the years ahead.
The event saw Appeal court justices drawn from various divisions across the country as well as their Supreme Court counterparts.
President of the Appeal court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who hosted the event, commended the justices for remaining resolute even in the face of the many challenges that confronted the judiciary in the course of the year.
Supporting her position, the Acting Chief Justice said the challenges confronting the judiciary is an opportunity for the sector to reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law and its independence.
He however re-iterated the need for the judiciary to be more open to the public as a way of improving its image.
This is coming after many have raised suggestions for judicial reforms and with the discussions as well as set plans for 2017 and beyond, it is expected that the sector receives the much needed overhauling.
Two Nigerian judges are up for dismissal and compulsory retirement if the recommendations of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the State governments where they adjudicate would be implemented.
The Council under the chairmanship the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has recommended the dismissal of Justice Ugbo Ononogbo of the Abia State High Court of Justice and the compulsory retirement from office of Justice Nasir Gummi of Zamfara State High Court of Justice with immediate effect.
Justice Ononogbo was recommended for dismissal to the governor of Abia State, following allegations that the judge signed two different orders without due diligence.
Apart from recommending the dismissal justice Ononogbo the NJC also recommended that the Assistant Chief Registrar and Probate Division of Abia State High Court, Udeka be handed over to the police for investigation.
Suspended From Office
Justice Gunmi was recommended for compulsory retirement to the governor of Zamfara State sequel to the findings of the Council, that the judge failed to deliver judgement almost 23 months after the final address by all counsel in the suit.
The act, according to the council, is contrary to the constitutional provisions that judgements should be delivered within a period of 90 days.
The Council also resolved to issue a letter of strong warning to Justice D. O. Oluwayemi of Lagos State Judiciary for granting an ex-parte order relying on an affidavit of urgency which disclosed no threat of destruction of rights, or interest, in the subject matter of the dispute without putting the other party on notice.
Another letter of warning will also be issued by the Council to Justice M. A. Savage of the High Court of Lagos State, for holding discussion with complainant’s counsel in suit he had judicially acted upon and for serving as a bridge between him and the other party’s counsel.
Both Justice Ononogbo of Abia State and Justice Gunmi of Zamfara State High Court have been suspended from office with immediate effect, pending the approval of the recommendations of the council for their dismissal and compulsory retirement respectively.
The acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has advised newly admitted lawyers to the Nigerian Bar, to perform their roles as legal practitioners with integrity and competence.
Justice Onnoghen told the new wigs who have just completed their legal training from the various campuses of the Nigerian law school to not only cater to the interest of their clients, but that of the larger society while carrying out their judicial duties.
The acting CJN who was performing his first official call-to-bar ceremony since assuming office as the head of the country’s judiciary, also warned the new wigs that the body of benchers would not hesitate to throw out any erring lawyer from the legal profession.
While reminding the celebrants of the rules of professional conduct, Justice Onnoghen admonished the lawyers to shun any act that would bring the profession into disrepute.
He further charged the new lawyers to continue to educate and develop themselves professionally, so as to keep themselves abreast of latest legal developments in the country and across the globe.
President Muhammadu Buhari has sworn in Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in acting capacity.
At the swearing in ceremony on Thursday President Buhari asked the Acting Chief Judge to be on his toes, as his swearing in came at a time the nation was going through trying times.
The President congratulated the predecessor, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, for a job well done and asked Justice Onnoghen to join hands with the administration to tackle insecurity and corruption in the land.
Justice Onnoghen, the most senior judge in the Supreme Court, is replacing Justice Mohammed, who attained the mandatory 70 years retirement age.
Justice Onnoghen will act pending the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria by the President, who would have to forward the name of the appointee to the Senate for confirmation.
However, the National Judicial Council had on October 5 formally received the nomination of Justice Onnoghen as the new CJN for onward recommendation to President Buhari.