CJN To Inaugurate Acting Chief Judge For FCT

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad

 

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad will on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, inaugurate Justice Salisu Garba as the acting Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Judiciary.

A statement by the Director of Information, National Judicial Council (NJC) Mr Soji Oye notes that the inauguration of Justice Garba will be performed at the Supreme Court in Abuja by 2 pm.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the appointment of Honourable Justice Garba as Acting Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, following the retirement of Justice Ishaq Usman Bello.

The statement noted Justice Garba will be in acting capacity pending the confirmation of his appointment by the Senate as the substantive Chief Judge.

CJN Tanko Muhammad Tests Positive For COVID-19, Says Justice Saulawa

FILE PHOTO: The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, speaks during the inauguration of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on June 19, 2020.

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, has tested positive for COVID-19, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa has said.

Saulawa, a Justice of the Supreme Court, disclosed this at the unveiling of the national headquarters of the Muslim Lawyers’Association of Nigeria (MULAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, the CJN is presently in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he is receiving treatment.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu Is Responding Well To Treatment, Says Abayomi

Moments after Justice Saulawa made the statement, the Supreme Court disagreed with the comments of the justice on the CJN’s health status.

The Director of Press and Information at the apex court, Dr Akande Festus, in a statement, challenged those saying the CJN tested positive for COVID-19 to provide the result of the test he took.

“I wish to state categorically clear that there is no medical report so far made available by anybody indicating that the Hon. CJN has tested positive for coronavirus.

“Those peddling the rumour should go a step further to confirm from their sources and equally obtain the copy of whatever laboratory test result they are relying on,” he said.

Festus added, “As of this moment of issuing this statement, no one has so far shown me or any other person in Supreme Court a copy of the test result they are referring to in the report.”

The CJN was conspicuously absent at the opening of the 2020/2021 Legal Year and swearing-in of 72 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Monday.

In his absence, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour administered oaths to the new SANs as the next most senior Justice of the apex court.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected a few top government officials in Nigeria, including the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who died after he tested positive for the disease.

Also recently, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday last week.

CJN Swears-In 72 New SANs, Warns Against Disobeying Court Orders

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad on Monday swore in 72 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria and also warned against disobeying court orders.

Although the CJN Muhammad is absent from the ceremony, the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour represented him and administered oaths to the new SANs.

Rhodes-Vivour speaking at the opening of the 2020/2021 legal year and conferment of the rank of SAN on the 72 lawyers stressed that acts of disobedience to court orders will no longer be tolerated.

He added that Nigerians must respect and observe all the tenets of democracy in order not to turn the country into a lawless society.

The legal practitioners sworn-in as SANs were awarded the rank as a mark of excellence and for having distinguished themselves as Advocates and Academics.

The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee had earlier in November elevated 72 lawyers to the rank of the SAN.

Reps Seek Better Funding For Judiciary

Some members of the House of Representatives during plenary on April 28, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @HouseNGR

 

The House of Representatives is asking for better funding of the judiciary arm of government.

The lawmakers on Monday asked that the judiciary be exempted from the envelope system of budgeting.

The committee is also asking for the judiciary to be exempted from revenue generation for the country. They believe that this will take the burden of cost away from Nigerians and guarantee peace and justice.

READ ALSO: Nasarawa Gov Suspends Directors In 13 Local Govts Over Inflation Of Salary Figures

The lawmakers made their position known during the budget defense session of the judiciary, where they frowned at the reduction in the budget of the Supreme court, despite the appointment of eight new justices.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad weeks ago inaugurated eight new Justices of the Supreme Court.

Justice Muhammad warned the newly appointed justices of the apex court to shun extraneous considerations while discharging their duties.

The justices, who were recently elevated from the Court of Appeal bench, comprise seven men and one woman, as well as five appointees from the North and three from the South.

They include Lawal Garba (North West), Helen Ogunwumiju (South West), Abdu Aboki (North West), and Mohammed Saulawa (North West).

Others are Adamu Jauro (North East), Samuel Oseji (Souty South), Tijani Abubakar (North East), and Emmanuel Agim (South-South).

CJN Swears In Eight New Supreme Court Justices

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has sworn in eight new Justices of the Supreme Court.

The swearing-in ceremony held on Friday at the Supreme Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Shortly after the eight justices took turn to take their oath of office and oath of allegiance to the Nigerian Constitution, the CJN gave his remarks.

Justice Muhammad warned the newly appointed justices of the apex court to shun extraneous considerations while discharging their duties.

The justices, who were recently elevated from the Court of Appeal bench, comprise seven men and one woman, as well as five appointees from the North and three from the South.

They include Lawal Garba (North West), Helen Ogunwumiju (South West), Abdu Aboki (North West), and Mohammed Saulawa (North West).

Others are Adamu Jauro (North East), Samuel Oseji (Souty South), Tijani Abubakar (North East), and Emmanuel Agim (South South).

He was also confident that the new justices would remain morally upright as judicial officers with high integrity.

The courtroom was filled to capacity as lawyers, friends and associates of the newly appointed Supreme Court justices thronged the court to witness the swearing-in ceremony.

Notable among those present was a former Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Epiphany Azinge, as well as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, among others.

The recent inauguration of the judicial officers has raised the number of justices of the Supreme Court from 12 to 20.

CJN Swears In Dongban-Mensem As Court Of Appeal President

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, speaks during the inauguration of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on June 19, 2020.

 

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has sworn in Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal.

The swearing-in ceremony held on Friday at the conference room of the CJN’s office in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He asked the newly sworn-in appellate court president to discharge her duties to the court without fear or favour.

Justice Muhammad also advised her to work closely with presiding justices of the Court of Appeal to achieve great strides in the nation’s judicial system.

He said, “Certainly, you will see that there is no court in this country that has the number of justices that the Court of Appeal has.

“Therefore, that shows you that the Court of Appeal is home of work, the Court of Appeal is home of cooperation; you have to cooperate together, all of you from top to bottom so that the work will continue to progress.”

After taking the oath of office, Justice Dongban-Mensem promised the CJN that she would contribute her quota to the growth of the nation’s judiciary.

On their part, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, and Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, outlined their expectations from the Court of Appeal going forward.

The event had in attendance families, friends, colleagues of Justice Dongban-Mensem, as well as top government officials who stormed the venue to celebrate with her.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the appointment of Justice Dongban-Mensem to act as the President of the Court of Appeal from March 6, for an initial period of three months.

This followed the retirement of Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, as well as the recommendation of Justice Muhammad in line with the provisions of Section 238(4) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Following the completion of the initial period, the President announced on June 8 that he had forwarded the name of Justice Dongban-Mensem to the Senate for confirmation, in line with the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

After receiving the President’s request, the lawmakers in the Senate confirmed Justice Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal, paving the way for her inauguration.

CJN Orders Speedy Trial Of Cases, Decongestion Of Custodial Centres

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

 

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has ordered the heads of various courts to immediately speed up the trial of cases and decongestion of custodial centres in the country.

In a statement personally signed by him on Friday, he said there was a need to take the urgent measures in view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Justice Muhammad, who is also the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, explained that the United Nations had called for the reduction of the population of prison inmates to aid physical distancing in such facilities.

According to him, records show that Nigeria has about 74,127 inmates at various custodial centres and 52,226 are Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs).

The CJN was worried that most of the centres were housing inmates beyond their capacities and the congested facilities were harmful to the health of the inmates.

He, therefore, directed the heads of courts to urgently visit all custodial and correctional centres within their jurisdictions to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.

Justice Muhammad recommended the conditional and unconditional release, as well as payment of fines of awaiting trial persons depending on the categories they fall within.

He also asked the justices to forward a report of their visits to him for compilation and onward transmission to the relevant authorities.

Read the full statement by the CJN below:

RE: URGENT NEED FOR SPEEDY TRIAL OF CASES AND DECONGESTION OF CUSTODIAL CENTRES

Ref. No. NJC/CIR/HOC/II/662  15th May 2020

To: All Chief Judges,

States Judiciaries and FCT.

 

I wish to draw Your Lordships attention to the need to take urgent measures towards the speedy trial of cases and decongestion of custodial centres in the country in view of COVID-19 Pandemic.

Recently, the United Nations called on countries of the World to consciously reduce the population of prison inmates since physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are practically impossible.

From available records, the inmates’ population at various custodial centres across the country presently stands at about 74,127 out of which 52,226 are Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs).

Most of these custodial centres are presently housing inmates beyond their capacities and the overcrowded facilities pose a potent threat to the health of the inmates and the public in general in view of the present circumstances, hence the need for urgent steps to bring the situation under control.

Considering the above, it has become imperative for Your Lordships to embark on an immediate visit to all custodial/correctional centres within your respective States to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.

During the requested visit, the Chief Judges are enjoined to consider the conditional or unconditional release of Awaiting Trial Persons who have spent 6 years or more in custody.

ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged inmates and terminally ill may be discharged.

It is expected that particular attention should be on the aged, those with health issues, low-risk offenders, those with no sufficient legal basis to remain in custody, inmates convicted for minor offences with or without the option of fines and inmates who have less than 3 years term left to serve having served a substantial term of their service for offences that attract 5 years and above.

Payment of fines may be made in favour of inmates convicted of lesser offences with the option of fine, who are in custody because of their inability to pay such fines.

The list of deserving inmates as provided by the Correctional Service Formations across the Country with above criteria is hereby attached for your guidance.

A report on the proposed visits is required to be forwarded to me for compilation and onward transmission to Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion Secretariat, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.

Finally, there is the need to ensure that Your Lordships direct lower courts to comply with requirements of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/law in issuing remand warrants in criminal cases especially in cases which are not within their jurisdiction.

This will regulate the volume of entry of Awaiting Trial Inmates into custodial centres.

Hon. Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR

Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman

National Judicial Council

Allow Judges Hear Applications Via Skype, Falana Writes CJN

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice I.T. Muhammad requesting that courts re-open and judges hear applications via Skype or Zoom.

In his letter titled, “Request To Re-Open Courts To Attend To Bail Applications And Fundamental Rights Applications,” the human rights activist said it is important that the National Judicial Council (NJC) review its decision to suspend court sitting till further notice.

According to Falana, this review is necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory.

He added that decision to re-open courts is also necessary to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention.

READ ALSO: FG Grants Amnesty To Ambrose Alli, Enahoro, Effiong, Pardons 2,600 Inmates

Read The Full Letter Below

REQUEST TO RE-OPEN COURTS TO ATTEND TO BAIL APPLICATIONS AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS APPLICATIONS

Pursuant to Your Lordship’s letter dated March 23, 2020, all Heads of courts in the country were directed to suspend court sittings for two weeks in tandem with the COVID-19 Regulations issued by President Muhammadu Buhari. In another letter dated April 6, 2020, Your Lordship extended the suspension of court sittings “till further notice given the lockdown measures put in place by the federal government and some state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19. ”

No doubt, the decision of the National Judicial Council to suspend the sittings of all courts was predicated on the need to protect our Judicial Officers and judicial staff from the coronavirus pandemic. However, in view of the decision of the federal government to relax the lockdown by allowing markets, shops and stalls selling food and groceries to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily the National Judicial Council ought to review the suspension of court sittings to enable them to attend to urgent matters.

The review has become necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications to secure the enforcement of the fundamental right to personal liberty of other detainees are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory. In addition, the return dates in respect of several ex parte orders made by Magistrates for the remand of a number of criminal suspects which have since expired are due to be quashed or renewed to extend the time for further investigation.

In order to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention we are confident that our humble request will be granted. More so that the heads of the various courts are vested with the power to designate Judges and Magistrates to attend to urgent matters in accordance with the laws establishing such courts.

However, in order to observe the social distancing directive we suggest that arrangements be made for Judges to hear urgent applications via Skype or Zoom.

While awaiting Your Lordship’s response to our request please accept the assurances of our highest professional regards.

Yours Sincerely,

Femi Falana SAN, FCI Arb.

CJN Extends Suspension Of Court Sittings Over Coronavirus

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has extended the suspension of court sittings till further notice.

This was contained in a statement by the CJN on Monday evening.

According to the CJN, the extension is necessary because of the measures in place to fight COVID-19.

“In view of the fact that the initial two weeks suspension of courts sittings will expire on 7th April 2020, I hereby extend the suspension of court sittings till further notice, given the lockdown measure put in place by Federal and some state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19,” the CJN’s statement read in part.

Despite the extension, the CJN said courts would sit for urgent and time-bound matters.

“Your lordships are, however, to note that courts are expected to sit particularly to dispense matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound in line with our extant laws,” the CJN, who is also the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, added.

The extension comes two weeks after Justice Muhammad ordered all heads of courts in the country to suspend court sittings.

The initial suspension took effect on March 24.

CJN’s Directive On Suspension Of Court Proceedings Follows Quarantine Act, Says Malami

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says the directive of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Tanko Mohammed for courts to suspend proceedings follows the Quarantine Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Malami in a statement issued on Wednesday by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, however, clarified that courts are expected to attend to matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound even during the lockdown.

The AGF explained that since speedy dispensation of justice is a cardinal principle of the Justice Sector Reform of the present administration, only time-bound cases will be treated with dispatch and accorded the required attention as the nation battles the COVID-19 scourge.

According to the statement, the directive was communicated in a letter addressed to all heads of courts dated 1st April 2020 conveying the COVID 19 Regulation 2020.

It read in part: “Further to the letter Ref. No. NJC/CIR/HOC/11/631 dated 23rd March 2020 by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice I. T. Mohammad, CFR directing suspension of Court sittings for an initial period of two weeks at the first instance, except in matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound according to extant laws.”

After Judgement On Imo Election, PDP Asks CJN To Step Down

Justice Tanko Muhammad

 

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on Justice Tanko Muhammad to step down as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

This comes two days after the CJN chaired a seven-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court which presided over the appeal from the Imo State governorship election.

The National Chairman of the PDP, Mr Uche Secondus, asked the CJN to step down while reacting to the judgment of the apex court during a press conference on Thursday in Abuja.

He explained that the opposition party made the demand in order to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the country.

READ ALSOSupreme Court Nullifies Election Of Ihedioha, Declares Hope Uzodinma Imo Governor

Secondus said, “In other to avoid an imminent breakdown of law and order, the PDP demands that Justice Tanko Muhammad immediately steps down as CJN and chairman of the National Judicial Council as Nigerians have lost confidence in him and a Supreme Court under his leadership.”

 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court nullified the election of the PDP candidate, Mr Emeka Ihedioha, as the governor of Imo State.

It, thereafter, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha and give same to Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Party (APC).

The judgement has sparked mixed reactions from the ruling and opposition parties, as the APC celebrated the victory while the PDP rejected the decision of the apex court.

In his reaction, the PDP national chairman alleged that the judgement was a product of manipulation, and clear coup d’etat against the will of the people of Imo State.

He demanded that the decision of the Supreme Court on the election be reviewed and reversed in the interest of justice.

Secundus also asked the CJN and members of the panel to recuse themselves from the pending petitions on Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa, Kano, and Plateau States.

“Justice Tanko must not head the panel to determine the remaining election petitions before the Supreme Court,” he said.

The PDP national chairman added, “We demand that Justice Tanko Mohammed, the CJN and his colleagues on the Imo governorship panel recuse themselves from the remaining cases involving PDP in the Supreme Court.”

We Are Maintaining Zero-Tolerance For Corruption – CJN

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad said the Supreme Court of Nigeria is ever ready for any eventuality and is also well prepared to keep the country together as one indivisible entity through effective and efficient justice delivery.

Justice Muhammad stated this while addressing the members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption [PACAC], led by their Chairman, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, who paid a courtesy visit to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The CJN revealed that the Supreme Court, being the highest and final court in the land, is always very critical and conscious of every case that comes before it on appeal and as such, the Justices always put in concerted effort by doing a critical review of all facts and evidence before them to arrive at a decision in order to give justice to all parties in a free, fair and generally acceptable manner without any iota of equivocation.

‘’We are all seasoned judicial officers that were appointed to the Supreme Court based on merit, experience and qualification. We are bound by the oath we have subscribed to and thus discharge our responsibilities without deference to anybody and we will continue to do so.”

“We are never above board as human beings, so we are open to constructive criticisms. It may interest you to know that before we deliver any ruling or judgment, no matter how small it is, even if it is only five sentences, we have to hold conference with all the Justices on the panel and could even expand it in some critical situations to involve all the justices of the court. The sole aim of this practice is to ensure that justice is given in every case before us, no matter how infinitesimal it might be because we are the final court in the land.”

“Our judgments are always all-encompassing and must, at all times, reflect the feelings and views of every Justice on the panel. Dissenting judgments are always encouraged because we cannot all see things from the same perspective.”

Justice Muhammad assured the visitors that the Supreme Court, as usual, would continue to dispense justice in a free and fair manner that every citizen will be happy to say at the end of the day that justice is done, except of course, for those people who will only accept that justice is done when it favours them and not when the right thing is done.

He urged the PACAC members to help impress on the executive the need to be releasing all funds meant for the Judiciary at the appropriate time to avoid halting its operations. He further appealed to them to always offer advice whenever the need arises and not to also hesitate to forward petitions against any erring Judge to the National Judicial Council for immediate action, stressing that his administration is poised to maintain a zero-tolerance for corruption within the Judiciary.

‘’If you have any complaint against any judicial officer, you can approach the National Judicial Council immediately with your petition. I can assure you that it will be looked into quickly and the required action will be taken against such judge. We are maintaining a zero-tolerance for corruption. If you see us going the wrong way, based on your own understanding, you should quickly call our attention because we are amenable to correction, as it is only the almighty God that is infallible.’’

Earlier in his address, the Chairman of Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN informed the host that the committee was in the court on a congratulatory visit to the Chief Justice of Nigeria for the well-deserved appointment as the Chief Judicial Officer of the Federation and wished him well in his new office.

‘’We are here to express our solidarity and also show appreciation with the way the Chief Justice of Nigeria is treating corruption cases in the court. Contrary to what people have been saying, neither I nor my committee is hostile to the Judiciary. We, therefore, urge the Supreme Court of Nigeria, being the apex court of the country, to always use Justice as the basis of judgment and not the law. Whenever there is a clash between justice and law, justice should always prevail. There should never be a situation where law will take the place of justice.’’

He craved the indulgence of the CJN and other Justices of the Supreme Court to always make sure that once there is a situation where there seems to be no remedy or a way out of a nebulous issue, they should apply their well-endowed wisdom to find a way out to save the county from any form of breakdown or chaos.

‘’We want the golden era where developed countries learn from our own Supreme Court to be re-enacted because that is the bastion of our national pride. Fighting corruption is a collective task and we are here to join forces with the Judiciary to take this anti-corruption fight to a logical conclusion for the good of our dear country. We congratulate you on your appointment and wish you a fruitful tenure’’.

Other Justices of the Supreme Court on hand to receive the visitors were Justices Sylvester Ngwuta, Mary Odili and Amiru Sanusi.