Flagrant Disobedience Of Court Orders, ‘A Direct Invitation To Anarchy’ – CJN

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has said that the Judiciary will not tolerate disobedience to court orders.

Justice Tanko warned that flagrant disobedience of court orders is a direct invitation to anarchy.

Speaking in Abuja on Monday at the special court session marking the beginning of the new legal year of the Supreme Court and the inauguration of 38 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria, the Chief Justice said it is time for the Judiciary to take its destiny into its hands and operate independently.

According to the CJN, poor remuneration of judges and funding of the Judiciary is an attack on its independence.

READ ALSO: Osinbajo Attends Supreme Court Special Session For 2019/2020 Legal Year

He stated that the lack of financial freedom threatens the operations and independence of the Judiciary.

“If you say that I am independent, but in a way, whether I like it or not, I have to go cap in hand, asking for funds to run my office, then I have completely lost my independence.

“It is like saying a cow is free to graze about in the meadow but at the same time, tying it firmly to a tree. Where is the freedom?” Justice Tanko said.

He enjoined all concerned to allow the judiciary to enjoy its independence holistically.

Corrupt Judges: Blame FG, Governors, CJN Tells SERAP

CJN, Recession, Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, judiciaryThe Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, has said that the “the failure on the part of the Executive Arm of Government to act upon recommendations by the National Judicial Council (NJC) cannot be blamed upon the NJC”.

Justice Mohammed made the statement in a letter dated 26 October 2016 and sent to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

The letter by a spokesman for the CJN, H. S. Sa’eed was in response to SERAP’s request to Justice Mohammed that he should, as the Chairman of the NJC to “take over from the Department of State Service (DSS) the cases of all the seven judges released by the DSS and refer the cases of those judges to anticorruption agencies for conclusion of investigation and prompt prosecution”.

But the CJN in reaction told SERAP that, “certainly, you will agree with me that where there are clear constitutional provisions relating to the power of any individual, institution or Arm of Government, then it cannot deviate nor exceed such powers as this will be unlawful”.

The letter by the CJN read: “While restating the willingness of the NJC to act upon any petition as well as commitment of the Nigerian judiciary to the fight against corruption, his Lordship opines that any significant involvement in the fight against corruption will be upon a similar commitment of the Prosecutorial Agencies to actively prosecute their cases expeditiously when information about same is received.

“It is necessary to restate that the NJC is a creation of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) being established under Section 153 with its mandate clearly set out in Para 21, Part One of the Third Schedule to the Constitution. This provision clearly stipulates at Para 21(b) and (d) that the Council may only ‘recommend’ to the President and the Governors, the removal from office of Judicial Officers and to exercise disciplinary control over such Judicial Officers, which in effect is the extent of its power to discipline. Hence, the Council cannot, suo moto dismiss any Judicial Officer.

“The NJC can also neither ‘hand over corrupt judges to law enforcement agencies for prosecution nor recover proceeds of corruption, as you have suggested. It can merely recommend to act upon its findings, as it has always done.

“However, in exercise of its constitutional mandate, the NJC has enacted the Judicial Discipline Regulations, 2014 in order to ensure that petitions are received, investigated and addressed as appropriate. As SERAP’s own Report attests, 64 Judicial Officers have been disciplined within five years even preceding the institution of the new guidelines. Any failure on the part of the Executive Arm of Government to act upon such recommendations cannot therefore be blamed upon the NJC.

“With due consideration to the contents of your letter, I am directed to acknowledge and address the concerns which SERAP have raised, which may reflect the wider opinion held by some Nigerians. While his Lordship doubtless appreciate SERAP’s concern for the incidence of corruption in the judiciary, it is indeed erroneous to conclude that the NJC has ‘felt satisfied with applying only civil sanctions and have not deemed it fit to hand over corrupt judges to law enforcement agencies for prosecution nor recover proceeds of corruption’, as insinuated in your letter under reference.

“To be sure, every citizen of Nigeria inclusive of Judicial Officers, are entitled to the protection of the law and a key provision of the Constitution is the presumption of innocence, as enshrined in Section 36(5) of the Constitution (as amended). I must also remind us that the Seven Judges like all other persons are entitled to a fair hearing as stipulated in Section 36 of the Constitution. As such, it would be presumptive and indeed preemptive to sanction the said judges without exhausting the proper procedure for their removal.”

“As a valuable member of the society, the Hon. CJN is certainly delighted with SERAP’s dedication to justice, fairness and justness. His Lordship also wishes to emphasize that it is indeed our collective responsibility to tackle any perceived challenges facing the Nigerian judiciary.”

“Indeed, with the support of well-meaning and eminent Nigerians such as members of SERAP, giant strides will be made towards reaching the goal of a transparent, fair and equitable system of justice. The Hon. CJN wishes you the best in your future endeavor as SERAP strives to support and entrench good governance in Nigeria”.

SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, had in a letter written to the NJC on October 11 expressed serious concern that “the NJC has for many years failed to appropriately deal with several cases of corrupt judges by failing to refer those cases to the EFCC and ICPC for prosecution. Many of these suspected corrupt judges are still alive and their cases should be promptly referred to the anti-corruption agencies. The NJC under your leadership should seize the opportunity of the just released 7 judges to comprehensively address corruption in the judiciary”.

SERAP said that it believed that “the NJC is in the best position to tackle corruption within the judiciary, and to ensure the application of appropriate disciplinary and legal measures in the cases of the released seven judges and other judges suspected of engaging in corruption”.

CJN Lashes Out At Critics Of Judicial Officers

JudiciaryThe Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, has referred to those calling the judicial officers corrupt as being inconsiderate and ignorant of how the judiciary operates.

Justice Mohammed, who is retiring from the judiciary after 38 years of service made the observation on Wednesday in Abuja while speaking at a special valedictory session held in his honour.

According to the CJN, such criticisms are made without due considerations of the law and the system of government in Nigeria.

He said that the judiciary is duty bound to act and would continue to act in accordance with the dictates of the law as it stands and not as its critics would want it to be.

Lending his voice, to the  position of the CJN, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh, also condemned in strong terms, the criticism of the Nigerian judiciary.

The NBA President also described the act as ‘a deliberate attempt to disparage the judiciary’.

Ekiti People Will Defend Their Mandate – Fayose

Ayo Fayose-Ekiti Ekiti State Governor has described his return to the office of Governor of the state “as a mandate freely and wholeheartedly given by Ekiti people”.

“Ekiti people who are the owners of my mandate will defend it against political usurpers, whom they had rejected twice in the last nine months,” Governor Ayodele Fayose said in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and News Media, Lere Olayinka.

He also urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to sustain his stand of not allowing the use of the judiciary to change the outcome of elections.

Governor Fayose described the noise of impeachment and Supreme Court judgment being made by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a plot to distract him from concentrating on governance and also from the coming Saturday’s House of Assembly election.

He however, called on members and supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state not to be distracted from their goal of delivering all the 26 Assembly seats in the state to the party.

He said “Sovereignty belongs to the people and the people of Ekiti State on June 21, 2014, surrendered their sovereignty to me to be their governor for four years.

“Instead of respecting the wish of Ekiti people, which they again affirmed on March 28 and will further affirm on April 11, the APC people that were rejected in two free and fair elections have been trying all tricks to return to power through the back door.

“They filed several cases in their bid to stop my inauguration as Governor and even committed murder in the process.”

Speaking further, Governor Fayose said; “The Speaker of the State House of Assembly then, Dr Adewale Omirin, was assured of assuming office as Acting Governor and that informed his non-attendance of my inauguration, as he was still hoping that even on October 16, 2014, a court order would be gotten to stop my inauguration.

“Their evil plots against the mandate of Ekiti people failed then, but up till now, they are not relenting.

“Today, even though Omirin has been duly impeached, he still believes he can be Acting Governor, while Dr Kayode Fayemi that was roundly rejected by Ekiti people is also boasting that he will return to power through the instrumentality of the court.”

“However, let me warn the APC as a party to respect the wish of Ekiti people as the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan respected the wish of Nigerians on the election of Major General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd).

“Any attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Ekiti people, using whatever instrument will be resisted by the people themselves because power belongs to the people and they have handed it to whom they desire to exercise till October 16, 2018.

“The APC gladiators in Ekiti should therefore emulate President Jonathan and the PDP by waiting till 2018 to try their luck again.”

Chief Justice Inaugurates Election Tribunals

Voter-register-INEC-2015-electionThe Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, has inaugurated the 2015 election tribunals for the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

While calling on the various panels to ensure that justice is done to any case before them in line with the law, the Chief Justice warned that the National Judicial Council would not spare anyone found wanting, in the cause of his duties.

He urged the election tribunals members not to allow any political party or politician to derail the task assigned to them.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Amaka Okafor, reports that over 200 judicial officers, comprising of justices of the appellate court, the High Courts and Chief Magistrates converged on the Supreme Court in Abuja on Tuesday.

They gathered in line with section 133 of the Electoral Act, which stipulates that election petition tribunals must be established 14 days prior to the elections and their secretariat must open seven days to the elections.

Soon after the Chief Justice arrived in company of other justices of the Supreme Court, the judicial officers took their oath of allegiance.

After the ceremony, the Chief Justice urged members of the tribunals to do justices to cases before them with honesty  in line with the law  and not by personal conviction or affiliations.

Having been inaugurated, the various tribunals will now wait for the election petitions to begin proceedings.

 

Chief Justice Warn Lawyers On Corrupt Practices

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Aloma Justicw Mariam Mukthar, has admitted that the lack of transparency; integrity and accountability are some of the factors responsible for the increasing level of corruption in Nigeria.

She stated this a seminar organised by the anti-corruption commission of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) where the issue of large scale corruption was again given prominence as the lawyers seek ways of stemming the tide in the country.

The CJN read the riot act to members of the bar and the bench, warning that the depreciation in budgetary allocation for the judiciary is not an excuse to engage in corrupt practices.

Addressing participants at a two day seminar, Justice Mukhtar warned judicial officers to shun corruption and vowed to deal with corrupt judicial officers saying corruption in the judiciary undermines the nation’s fragile democratic system by fuelling popular disillusionment with the country’s justice system.

Also speaking, NBA’s President, advised litigants to report corrupt lawyers and judges as he was corroborated by Professor Peter Abah of the Federal Ministry of Justice who announced a new strategy by the government to combat corruption.

The Solicitor General of Lagos State, called for a review of the role of lawyers in the administration of justice while the President of the anti-corruption commission of NBA suggested ways of stemming the tide of corruption.

The two day seminar which attracted legal luminaries where they deliberated on ways of repositioning and strengthening the legal practitioners’ disciplinary committee for a credible bar in addition to promoting openness and honesty within the bar.

 

AGF opposes suit challenging Jonathan’s power to replace Salami

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) has filed a preliminary objection challenging the  locus standi of a group of 11 lawyers challenging the president’s power to appoint  an acting president of the Court of Appeal following the suspension of the president of the court, Justice Ayo Salami.

Counsel to the federal government argued that the plaintiffs have not shown how the removal of Justice Salami or the appointment of an acting president of the court will be injurious to them.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Jitobo Akanike, however argued that as lawyers and ministers of the temple of justice they have it as a duty to ensure that the sanctity of the judiciary as a separate arm of government is not meddled with as if it is under the executive.

He argued that the role of discipline for erring judicial officers should be left to the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Presiding Judge, Justice Abdullahi Adamu, has fixed January 17 for a definite hearing of the objection filed by the federal government.

Justice Salami was suspended from office after a major disagreement between him and Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, the then Chief Justice of Nigeria last year.

Nigeria to get first female Chief Justice

President Goodluck Jonathan has nominated Justice Aloma Mukthar as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), making her the first female CJN in the nation’s history.

The president forwarded the nomination of Justice Mukthar to the Senate for confirmation on Wednesday in conformity with Section 123 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

If approved by the Senate, Justice Mukthar will replace Chief Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who is due to retire on July 13, 2012 having reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

The new CJN if approved, will become the first female head of the Nigeria’s judiciary.

Born in Kano state in 1944, the jurist was also the first woman to be appointed Judge at the Court of Appeal in September, 1987.

Justice Mukhtar, who was called to the Nigerian bar in 1967, a year after she was called to the English bar, was also the first female to be appointed Justice of the Supreme Court, in 2005.

She is at present, one of only three female justices of the apex court, the others being Olufunlola Adekeye and Mary Odili.

The nominated CJN was one of the three judges-with a minority vote- sought to nullify the 2007 presidential elections that brought in late President Umaru Yar’Adua, when they ruled that the several violations of the electoral law particularly non serialization of ballot papers used for the Presidential election, was enough to disqualify the election.

Their views were however in the minority as the majority of four Supreme Court Justices ruled that the non-compliance, though existed, were not enough to invalidate the elections.

President Jonathan also forwarded the names of Justices Kumai Akaahs and Stanley Alagoa for confirmation as Justices of the Supreme Court.