Richard Nwankwo, a legal practitioner while accessing Nigeria’s judiciary on the mid-term report of the Jonathan administration said the legal arm has fared well but it does need a lead way for improvement.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme Sunrise Daily, Mr. Nwankwo stated that the judiciary should be firm when dealing with issues whilst he called for a thorough procedure in the Constitution of members of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
He said that the judiciary should be firm adding that the constitution of NJC members is “grossly skewed.”
He argued that an “organization like NJC is very sensitive and the appointing power resting solely on the CJN is very unacceptable.”
Referring to the statement by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Aloma Mukhtar that“if a judge fails to deliver a minimum of four judgments in a year the judge should be sanctioned”, Mr Nwankwo said the implication of such a remark is that a lot of judicial officers will fall below that bench mark.
Against the background of the comments of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who during the swearing in of 25 Senior Advocate of Nigeria accused lawyers of deliberately misleading their clients, Jiti Ogunye, a Lagos based legal practitioner said the AGF is a worse example of what he is criticizing.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s morning programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ogunye asked “So what has the Attorney General been doing to the Federal government on many issues including that of Justice Salami?”
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mariam Alooma Mukhta on Wednesday swear in twenty Five lawyers who were recently elevated to the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) as part of activities marking the commencement of a new legal year by the Supreme Court.
Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana and the others were conferred as senior advocates by the Legal Practitioners Privileges committee. The elevation, the Committee said, was in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners’ Act 2004.
Those who were sworn in alongside Mr Falana included: Yemi Akinseye-George, a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Dakas Clement James Dakas, Joy Okungbowa Adesina, Connie – Jeanne Aremu, Mahmud Abubakar Magaji, Ogwu James Onoja, Garuba Usman Tetengi, Henry Oghogho Ogbodu, Selekeowei Larry, Abenny O. Mohammed and Charles Nwanne Obishai.
Others are Luke Chukwudi Illogu, Francis Chuka Agbo, Paul C. Ananaba, Akinlaja Dayo Moses, Ahmed Raji, Adekunle Theophilus Oyesanya, Rotimi Oluseyi Oguneso, Oluseye Samuel Opasanya, Aderoja Claudius Olumiyiwa, Aliyu Umar, Illo Katune Sanusi, Rotimi Jacobs and Ndukwe A. Nnawuchi. Justice Mukhta praised the Supreme Court Practice Direction signed into law by the past Administration for contributing to the speedy conclusion of election cases.
“In this new legal year, our efforts will be redoubled to ensure that the confidence bestowed on us by the people and by God will not be thrown into the abyss,” she said.
The Chief Justice said there are presently an estimated 40,000 prisoners in Nigeria with about two thirds of this population not convicted. She said that perhaps the Amnesty International is correct for laying the blame on the Nigerian judiciary where cases are unnecessarily adjourned.
She commended the efforts of some state administration aimed at introducing alternative punitive measures as a way of prison decongestion and praised Community service, non-custodian sentences and probation as having great benefits to the government and the society at large.
Also speaking at the event, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke called for a rethinking in the elevation of persons to the rank of senior advocates of Nigeria. He observed that the general perception is that being a SAN offers legal practitioners license to charge very fat legal fees.
“In popular discourse within and outside the profession, there is a palpable feeling or perception that the rank is a passport to fame, personal riches and comfort. To others, the rank is a license to command fat fees, open doors and prominence bordering sometimes on arrogance. It is a matter of regret that these negative perceptions of the rank have engendered resentment from our colleagues who are yet to be similarly recognised and honoured”
He said the position of senior advocates of Nigeria places a duty and responsibility on the bearer to the profession.
He called on the new senior advocates as leaders of the Bar, to behave in a manner befitting the rank.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday asked the new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Aloma Mukhtar, to create special courts for terrorism and corruption related cases.
The president made this request at the State House, Abuja after swearing-in Justice Mukhtar as the first female and 13th indigenous CJN.
He said that the security challenges in some parts of the country called for concerted actions by the three arms of government.
Mr Jonathan also advised the new Justice Mukhtar to designate judicial officers with wealth of experience in criminal jurisprudence and terrorism to preside over the special courts for outstanding results.
“I am confident that the judiciary under your able leadership will rise up to the challenge and provide the most needed support for government to address these challenges,” the president said.
“Our citizens complain of delayed trials particularly in cases of corruption, terrorism and other matters of serious concern.
“These complaints have led to frequent calls for special courts or designation of special judges to handle them with the required experience and speed.
“It will be your prerogative to consider and decide on this call. But I am sure that the entire country is in agreement that justice delayed is justice denied.’’
Mr Jonathan charged the new CJN to fulfil her promise of reforming the judiciary, as made during her confirmation by the Senate.
He said that the independence of the judiciary was critical to national development and survival, and called on the new CJN to ensure timely justice delivery.
The President said though his administration had remained focused in projecting women, but the CJN achieved the outstanding feat of becoming Nigeria’s first female Chief Justice of Nigeria on account of her brilliance, resilience and hard work.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there is the hand of destiny in the life of this distinguished jurist. From the records, her lordship has always been a trailblazer in her judicial journey.
“She was the first female lawyer of the Northern extraction, the first female high court judge from the North, first female second in command Kano State judiciary, the first Nigerian female jurist to be elevated to the Court of Appeal where she served for over 17 years at the appellate court.
“Today, she has risen to the pinnacle of her judicial career as the first female CJN in further service of our great country. My lord, I congratulate you.
“Her lordship’s achievement is an inspiration to all citizens especially womanhood not only in Nigeria but also in Africa and the rest of the world.
“The Honourable CJN now joins an eminent and exclusive list of achievers recognised throughout the world as beacon of hope in this century,’’ he said.
Justice Musdapher is honoured
The President thanked the immediate past CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher for the spirited efforts he made to restore public confidence in the judiciary within his short tenure in office.
“We wish Justice Musdapher, a well-deserved retirement and hope that he will avail his wealth of experience in the continued service of our nation especially as he is now a member of Council of State,’’ he said.
President Jonathan conferred on Justice Mukhtar the honour of Grand Commander of the Order of Niger, GCON; the second highest national honour in Nigeria.
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.