President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said that he is confident that the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alooma Mariam Mukhtar will reform and reposition the judiciary for the effective and efficient discharge of its constitutional mandate.
The president was speaking in the presidential villa after swearing in the CJN in the presidential villa.
He said that Justice Mukhtar is presiding over the judiciary at a time of profound changes that demand united response but that he is confident that the challenges can be confronted head on.
Mr Jonathan pointed at security challenges and the terrorism, and called on the three arms of government to work together to overcome the threats.
He asked the CJN to rise up and provide the necessary support to address corruption pointing out that the complain about lengthy trials especially in cases of corruption, terrorism and other matters of serious public concern should be considered to avoid the delay in justice for all.
Justice Dahiru Musdapher on Sunday bowed out as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) having attained the retirement age of 70 years.
Justice Dahiru Musdapher on Friday bowed out as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) having attained the retirement age of 70 years.
At a valedictory service held in his honor, Justice Musdapher advocated the creation of an Independent body other than the National Judicial Council, for the discipline and removal of Judges.
Justice Musdapher noted that investigation of allegation of impropriety against judicial officers is too cumbersome for the NJC which is saddled with other responsibilities.
He said the system which has been adopted by most Commonwealth countries, is in a better position to deal with issues of discipline and removal as opposed to an institution that is largely managed by those it is supposed to regulate.
Present at the occasion were governors of Kogi, Bauchi, Ekiti and Jigawa also present were retired justices of the Supreme court and the Appellate court ,members of the Nigerian Bar Association, the body of senior Advocates, federal lawmakers, traditional rulers, the mother of the retiring chief justice and other well wishers.
Soon after Justice Musdapher filed into the court to perform his last duty as the head of the nations judiciary, he swore-in two newly appointed justices of the supreme court, Justice Musa Dantijo Muhammed and Justice Clara Ogunbiyi.
Justice Musdapher outlined some of his achievements as the chief justice, one of which is the 47 amendments sought as part of the reform of the judiciary, he urged the National Assembly to be pro-active in passing the laws.
The outgoing chief justice also gave a score card of the Supreme Court at the end of the 2012 legal year.
He also made a case for another body to be responsible for judicial discipline and removal as the role has become too cumbersome for the National Judicial Commission.
His Lordship then bowed out of the court as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, having served thirty-three of his forty-four years career on the bench.
Delays in handling corruption cases
The outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria explained the reasons why his directive to all courts in the country to dispose of all corruption cases within the last six months were not achieved.
According to him, the major reason is the cumbersome nature of the various charge sheets which contains so many counts charges making it difficult to prosecute.
Justice Musdapher blames the anti-graft agencies who arrest and charge suspected offenders before concluding investigations making them largely unprepared for trial.
He also blames defence lawyers whom he says have perfected strategies for stalling the trial processes via the filing of pointless interlocutory appeals.
This he said has necessitated the need for a speedy amendment of the relevant sections of the constitutions to block all loop holes for unjustified invocation of the right of appeal.
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar as the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria. While answering questions from the lawmakers, Justice Mukhtar admitted that the judiciary is corrupt, but she would begin internal cleansing based on petitions and ensure that those found culpable are penalized.
Justice Muhktar told the senators that she is not in support of special courts to fight terrorism adding that judges be assigned to take care of terrorism related cases.
She is also an advocate of plea bargaining when done in good faith.
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), in a press release, criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for not acting “swiftly” to reinstate the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami.
Nine months into his controversial suspension, the National Judicial Council recommended on Thursday that President Jonathan reinstate the beleaguered PCA.
The CNPP, in the press statement signed by the party’s national publicity secretary, Osita Okechukwu, condemned the NJC’s initial decision to suspend the PCA on August 17 last year, describing it as “crude and unethical”.
NJC suspended Justice Salami after the PCA refused to apologize after accusing the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu of pressuring his ruling in a governorship election appeal dispute involving Sokoto State.
The CNPP called the suspension sentence “the height of judicial recklessness” and condemned President Jonathan for readily approving the suspension and appointing Justice Dalhatu Adamu as an immediate replacement.
“CNPP had maintained since then that the action of the National Judicial Council is contemptuous, scandalous and had exposed the perfidy of the judiciary and undermines the integrity of the temple of justice in Nigeria,” the statement read, adding “it is good NJC reversed itself”.
They maintained that the NJC perverted justice in Salami’s case, adding “we were at a loss where Justice Salami went wrong in refusing to take the orders of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Kastina-Alu to pervert the course of justice in the Sokoto State Governorship election matter”.
“CNPP is of the candid view that Justice Salami was hounded because of the presidential election petition – CPC vs PDP, which he presided over then at the Appeal Court.”
The statement warned that President Jonathan’s “failure to act as swiftly as he did before may fuel the suspicion of double standard, regrettably eroding his image”.
The members of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on Wednesday failed to resolve the issue surrounding the recall of the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.
The consideration to recall Justice Salami follows a recommendation by a three-man special sub-committee of the Judicial Reform panel that the suspended President of the Court of Appeal should be reinstated to his office by the council. It was on the strength that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, recommended his recall to President Goodluck Jonathan.
A source present at the Council meeting said that members had been warned not to divulge to the public the discussion at the meeting.
Another source who asked not to be named said that no decision was taken on Justice Salami yet and added that there were divisions among the members over the issue of reinstating the President of the Court of Appeal.
“While some are sympathetic to Salami and believed that he should be recalled so as to restore the credibility of the Judiciary, others who were loyalists of the former CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu were against such a recall,” the source said.
This information could however not be verified as the council declined comments or release an official statement of the outcome of it’s meeting.
The 29-member stakeholders Judicial Reform Committee headed by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais and set up by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, on October 14th 2011 had also recommended Justice Salami’s reinstatement.
Justice Salami was suspended by the NJC on August 18, last year after an emergency session of the NJC. He is presently in court challenging his suspension as the president of the Court of Appeal.