At Least Three Judges Sit In Lagos As Courts Resume Activities

A file photo of a court.

 

At least three judges of the Lagos High Court in Ikeja sat to hear proceedings on Tuesday following the resumption of judicial activities in courts across the country.

Court staff, lawyers, and litigants arrived at the court premises, some as early as 8am while most of the courtrooms were open with parties seen moving in and out.

Hearings could, however, not fully commence in earnest as most of the cause lists were yet to be updated.

This was because the dates for hearings had been overtaken by the industrial action by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

Although Channels Television’s camera could not go into the courtrooms, the crew observed that many lawyers were liaising with court officials with a view to getting new hearing dates for their matters.

But the cause list at the court presided by Justice Mojisola Dada was up to date and the judge sat to hear some cases.

Similarly, Justice Josephine Oyefeso and Justice Sherifat Solebo sat to hear matters in their respective courtrooms.

Elsewhere at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, activities were on low-key with only one judge sitting when the crew monitored proceedings.

In an interview with Channels Television outside the courtroom, a lawyer, Ikechukwu Chiaha, commended the judiciary workers for the industrial action.

JUSUN embarked on a nationwide strike on April 6 to demand the implementation of the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

Two months later, the strike was suspended on Wednesday last week following a meeting between officials of the union and the National Judicial Council (NJC) led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad.

Judiciary Workers Resume Work In Lagos

Alleged Kidnap: Judge’s Absence Stalls Evans Trial
A file photo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja

 

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in Lagos State has begun the partial opening of courts by returning to duty three times a week.

In a circular dated April 27 and addressed to its members, JUSUN Chairman in the state, Kehinde Shobowale, directed a partial reopening of the courts.

Following the directive, members were to report to work every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

JUSUN had on April 6 embarked on an indefinite strike demanding that state governments grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.

But Shobowale said that the union took that decision because Lagos State has so far attained 75 per cent financial autonomy.

“It is our desire only to relax strike rules to allow clearance of backlogs, reading of judgement and decongestion of prison occasion by the COVID pandemic and #EndSARS protest,” he said.

“Therefore, work and official duties are constraints to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of every week, while Monday and Tuesday of every week remain our strike days that all staff must stay off duty to observe the national strike.”

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Meanwhile, the Director of Administration and Human Resources in Lagos State Judiciary, Sanusi Kamal, in a notice on April 28, directed judiciary staff to resume on April 29.

He said, “In view of the communique issued by JUSUN, Lagos State Branch on April 27, I have the directive to inform all members of staff to resume at their various duty post on Thursday (today).

“It should be noted that officers are expected to be in office only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays of every week until further directive from JUSUN.”

But in a swift reaction, the National Working Committee (NWC) of JUSUN has asked the workers to disregard the notice of resumption.

A statement signed by the National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Koin Selepreye said, the strike is still very much on in Lagos and other states until there is a definite conclusion.

Koin further stated that the NWC has taken steps to curb the ugly situation even as no state has the authority to suspend the ongoing strike, Lagos inclusive.

Lagos To Digitalise Courts In October, Says Commissioner

Alleged Kidnap: Judge’s Absence Stalls Evans Trial
A file photo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.

 

The Lagos State government says it has concluded plans to launch the digitisation of courts in the state, in its bid to ensure speedy dispensation of justice in the state.

Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, who is the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, disclosed this on Thursday.

Speaking at the first virtual Bar-Bench Forum 2021, he noted that the coronavirus pandemic affected the digitalisation of the courts as proposed in 2020, but it would be achieved in October 2021.

The commissioner, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), hinted that the government has put plans in place to digitise 10 selected courtrooms at the first stage in the year.

He added that the courtrooms would be equipped with the latest technology to assist the judges and counsels during court proceedings.

“The digitalisation will ensure speedy dispensation of justice to the citizens of the state; the interest of Lagos State citizens is paramount,” Onigbanjo was quoted as saying in a statement by Kayode Oyekanmi, the spokesman for the state’s Ministry of Justice.

He was hopeful that the digital reform would eradicate all forms of paperwork and also make the Lagos courtrooms first-class in Africa.

At the forum, the commissioner spoke on the theme ‘The aftermath of EndSARS protest and Effects of COVID-19 pandemic in the Justice System: Update on effort made so far.’

He urged participants that virtual sitting should be embraced by all, noting that it has been ruled by the Federal High Court to be Constitutional.

“The rest of the world is moving on through the use of virtual sitting; there is a need for us all to embrace digitalisation in the justice sector,” Onigbanjo said.

He stated that a Lagos court had the first virtual sitting during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown which was labelled unconstitutional, but was later ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.

On the destruction of court buildings in the state, the commissioner informed the gathering that the state government had made budget provisions to renovate the destroyed High Courts and Magistrate Courts buildings in the next quarter of the year.

He noted that the state government would provide eight courtrooms at Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi by the end of April to ease the effect of destroyed court buildings in the state.

In his remarks, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, said the judiciary would be investing more in the digitalisation and ICT-based initiatives in all its legal engagements.

He added that the judiciary sector would take advantage of the aftermath of the EndSARS incident to pursue more ICT programmes aimed at the digitalisation of court proceedings.

“To restore speedy justice delivery in the justice sector, we have identified problems faced by the judiciary as we are working tirelessly to resolve all of them,” he said.

Justice Alogba said the backlog of pending cases at both the State Magistrate and High Courts have been identified and would be looked into accordingly.

He commended the efforts of the state government in identifying the effect of the EndSARS incident on the judiciary sector and ensuring that they function well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NJC Recommends Appointment Of 22 Judges For Supreme Court, Others

A file photo of the Supreme Court in Abuja.

 

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the appointment of 22 judges for the Supreme Court and other courts of the federation.

In a statement on Friday, NJC’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, explained that the decision to recommend the appointment of the judges was taken at the second virtual meeting of the Council which held on August 11 and 12 respectively.

The meeting was chaired by the NJC Chairman and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

A breakdown of the figure indicates that four of the judges are recommended as Supreme Court Justices, three Heads of Court, 11 judges for State High Courts, and four Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal.

NJC recommended the judges to President Muhammadu Buhari and governors of the respective states for the appointments.

Read the full statement below:

PRESS RELEASE

13th August 2020

NJC recommends appointment of four (4) Justices, Supreme Court of Nigeria, three (3) Heads of Court, eleven (11) Judges for State High Courts and four (4) Kadis, of Sharia Court of Appeal

The National Judicial Council under the Chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad CFR, at its 2nd Virtual Meeting held on 11th and 12th August, 2020, considered the list of candidates presented by its Interview Committee and resolved to recommend the under-listed names of twenty-two (22) successful candidates to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and their respective State Governors for appointment as Justices of Supreme Court of Nigeria, Heads of Court and other Judicial Officers in Nigeria.

They are as follows:

  1. APPOINTMENT OF FOUR (4) JUSTICES, SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
  2. i) Justice Tijjani Abubakar

(North-East Zone)

  1. ii) Justice Mohammed L. Garba

(North-West Zone)

iii)           Hon. Justice Abdu Aboki

(North-West Zone)

  1. iv) Justice Mohammed M. Saulawa

(North-west Zone)

The Supreme Court of Nigeria currently have a total number of 12 Justices including the Hon. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, consisting of two (2) Justices from North Central, one (1) from the North East, one (1) from North West, three (3) from South East, one (1) from the South South and three (3) from the South West.

  1. APPOINTMENT CHIEF JUDGE, YOBE STATE
  2. i) Justice Gumna Kashim Kaigama
  3. APPOINTMENT OF GRAND KADI, SHARIA COURT OF APPEAL, KATSINA STATE
  4. i) Kadi Muhammed Abubakar
  5. APPOINTMENT OF PRESIDENT, CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL, IMO STATE
  6. i) Justice Mathew Emeka Njoku

 

  1. APPOINTMENT OF SIX (6) JUDGES, HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE, KANO STATE
  2. i) Jamilu Shehu Suleiman
  3. ii) Maryam Ahmen Sabo

iii)           Sanusi Ado Ma’aji

  1. iv) Abdu Maiwada Abubakar
  2. v) Zuwaira Yusuf
  3. vi) Hafsat Yahaya Sani
  4. APPOINTMENT OF TWO (2) JUDGES, HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE, TARABA STATE
  5. i) Clara Jummai Kataps
  6. ii) Kazera Blessing Kodiya

 

  1. APPOINTMENT OF FOUR (4) KADIS SHARIA COURT OF APPEAL, KADUNA STATE
  2. i) Muhammad Aminu Danjuma
  3. ii) Mustapha Umar

iii)           Muhammad Tukur Rashid

  1. iv) Muhammad Nasir Sidi

 

  1. APPOINTMENT OF THREE (3) JUDGES, CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL, DELTA STATE
  2. i) Gabriel Nkeiruka Dele Okafor
  3. ii) Grace Abanre Ibiye

iii)           Jessica Susan Gberevbie

All recommended candidates are expected to be sworn-in after approval by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and their respective State Governors and confirmation by the National Assembly and the respective State House of Assemblies.

Soji Oye, Esq

Director, Information

Wike Asks Heads Of Courts To Tackle Judicial Corruption

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, addresses judges in Port Harcourt on August 3, 2020.

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has called on the heads of various courts in the country to address what he described as corruption in the judiciary.

He made the call at an event where he presented cars to judges serving in Rivers on Monday in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

“I again call on the heads of our judicial systems at both state and federal levels to positively address the identifiable structural weakness, processes, and indulgences that continue to create room for and even give the stamp of approval to judicial corruption, insubordination, dereliction of duty, indiscipline, and other inefficient practices across the nation’s judiciary,” the governor said.

He explained that on behalf of the public, the government has played its part to secure a well-resourced and functional judicial system for the state.

Some of the cars gifted to judges in Rivers State.

 

Governor Wike, however, informed the judges that the people, in turn, expect them to discharge their duties with total and positive courage, commitment, and integrity.

According to him, adjudication and politics are incompatible, and no judge can get involved in both and legitimately claim to be an independent and impartial adjudicator.

The governor said, “Courage, commitment, and integrity require you to be fair to everyone that seeks justice before the courts you preside because the nature of your work grants you neither room nor privileged to choose and pick which case to handle or when it is convenient and to whom to dispense justice in favour.

“Unfortunately, we are increasingly seeing the active involvement of some serving judges in politics which is manifesting through their expressions, comments, special affiliations, and body language.”

Governor Wike also decried the situation where judges recuse themselves from matters brought before them and return the case files to the heads of the court.

He stressed that the decisions of such judges were the results of intimidation and pressure they face from litigants who try to induce them.

COVID-19: Courts Commence Virtual Proceedings In Katsina

A file photo of Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari.

 

Courts in Katsina State have commenced virtual proceedings.

The new procedure comes amid the guidelines issued by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for court sittings during the COVID- 19 period.

The State Chief Judge, Justice Musa Danladi, who spoke shortly after the commencement of the new procedure said the virtual court proceedings would hasten the dispensation of justice in the state.

Justice Danladi noted that as the global economy and governance have gone digital, it is imperative for the judiciary to embrace the trend in its operation.

This comes five days after the state government reiterated its commitment to support the judiciary in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities.

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Governor Aminu Masari stated this during the swearing-in of an Acting Grand Khadi, Muhammad Kabir as well as the Solicitor General and permanent secretary in the ministry of Justice, Barrister Isma’il Ibrahim Danladi at the Government House in Katsina.

According to the governor, his administration is ever ready to continue to respect the rule of law, expecting other arms of the legislature and the judiciary to apply due process, transparency and accountability.

NJC Suspends Court Proceedings Over Coronavirus

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

 

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has suspended all court proceedings across the country as part of the measures to protect the nation’s judicial institutions from coronavirus.

According to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, the move is to take effect from Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Justice Muhammad, who is also NJC Chairman, directed all heads of courts to ensure compliance for an initial period of two weeks.

READ ALSO: Access Bank Closes Branch After Visitor Tested Positive To COVID-19

In a statement posted on NJC website on Monday, the CJN asked courts to only entertain Despite the suspension however, court will only entertain “matters that are urgent, essential or time bound according to the nation’s extant laws.”

Justice Muhammad also directed all federal judicial bodies to continue working while ensuring that members of the public coming for official matters.

Similarly, meetings and conferences are expected not to exceed the recommended number of 50.

Only Fit, Proper Judges Will Preside Over Courts – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said only judges who are physically and mentally fit will be allowed to preside over courts in Nigeria.

The President in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said verification process has commenced to ensure that  judges recommended by the National Judicial Council only are those appointed into various courts across the country.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has commenced the process of ensuring that persons, Judges and Justices recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for appointment into various Courts of Record in the instant are fit and proper, and are not under any disability to function as Judicial Officers,” the statement read in part.

Garba Shehu said President Buhari’s position is in furtherance of the executive powers vested in him under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, which allows him as the appointing authority to exercise same reasonably, taking all relevant factors into consideration.

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He said Nigerians are assured that Buhari will issue his approval or otherwise as soon as the process of the background verification is completed.

President Buhari earlier on Friday approved the compulsory retirement of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

He also approved the dismissal of Justice O.O Tokode of the Benin Division of the Federal High Court from office.

Justice Tokode was also directed to refund all salaries and allowances he allegedly earned illegally from December 2, 2015, when he was sworn-in as a judge of the Federal High Court to date.

President Buhari further asked judicial officers to be alive to their responsibilities and eschew corruption in the discharge of their duties.

ICPC Seeks To Prosecute Corruption Cases In Federal Courts

ICPC Seeks To Prosecute Corruption Cases In Federal Courts

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has proposed to the National Assembly for an expansion of its options of courts to prosecute corruption cases to include Federal High Courts.

A statement issued by the spokesperson for the Commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, and obtained by Channels Television on Friday said the proposal was contained in a memorandum presented to the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption.

Acting Chairman of ICPC, Mr Abdullahi Bako, made the presentation during a public hearing organised on a bill to amend the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Mr Bako said the amendment became necessary given the fact that the Commission was restricted by its extant law to prosecute cases only in State High courts, a development he said was hampering its prosecutorial effectiveness as high-profile defendants often wield substantial influence within a state.

In the memorandum, the ICPC also made other proposals for amendment such as limiting its board membership to seven persons as against 13 that currently obtains, returning recovered proceeds of corruption to their original sources whether Federal, State, Local government or private persons, and retaining a percentage of its recoveries to help fund the commission among others.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Committee Chairman, Honourable Akinloye Babajide, said the amendment of the Act was being done to enhance and strengthen the commission’s efficiency and effectiveness.

He added that the importance of the public hearing, as a forum for the public, was to seek various inputs to make a good law towards the overall fight against corruption.

Representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant agencies also attended the forum where they made presentations in support of the proposed amendments.

An official from the EFCC’s legal and prosecution department, Mr Jonson Ojogbane, said it was international best practice for a law enforcement agency to retain a fraction of its recovered proceeds of crime.

For the Legal Director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Mrs Ifeoma Ewosa, recovered proceeds of corruption should not just be returned to their original owners but there should be a time-frame (such as 30 days) for such return to be carried out and also sanctions should be stipulated for non-compliance.

However, one of the representatives of the Nigerian Law Reforms Commission, Mr Jerry Ezeobi, objected to the amendment proposal for ICPC to retain a part of its recoveries.

According to him, it would make the commission deviate from its mandate of fighting corruption to seeking benefits it would gain from recoveries.

Other stakeholders at the gathering included representatives of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, military service chiefs, Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigeria Customs Service, and Nigerian Law School among others.

EFCC Commends CJN For Establishing Anti-Corruption Courts

Chief Justice Of Nigeria Not Under Investigation – EFCC
File photo: Walter Onnoghen

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described as a welcome development, the directive of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to heads of divisions of courts to establish special anti-corruption courts across the country.

Justice Onnoghen had announced the creation of special court for corruption cases on Monday at the special session of the Supreme Court where 29 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) were admitted to the inner bar.

In order for the National Judicial Council (NJC) to monitor and effectively enforce the foregoing Policy, the CJN said an Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee would be constituted at the next NJC meeting.

He had also directed heads of courts to clamp down on both prosecution and defence counsel who indulge in the unethical practice of deploying delay tactics to stall criminal trials.

The Commission described the development as a right step in the right direction, with the potentials of curtailing the unnecessary delays in the prosecution of corruption cases.

EFCC Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, who applauded the initiative on Wednesday, was hopeful that the innovation would strengthen the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria.

“The spate of frivolous and unwarranted adjournments at the instances of the defence for the purpose of stalling proceedings is over. With special courts, cases stand great chances of being disposed of quickly.

“We had clamoured for the creation of special or dedicated courts for over six years; so, the action of the CJN is commendable,” Magu said in a statement issued by the Commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren.

Abia: Court Adjourns Governor’s Son’s Case Against Popular Newspaper

EkitiAbia State High Court in Ohafia has adjourned  preliminary hearings on a suit filed by Chinedum Orji, son of Abia State Governor, against Sun Newspapers and Ebere Wabara to the 15th of December 2014.

Chinedum Orji had on the 8th of April, 2014 filed a suit against the publishing company and one Ebere Wabara, for libel, claiming the sum of N5 billion as damages for libel, as well as an unreserved apology to be published in the same newspaper and an order restraining the defendants and their agents from further writing, printing and publishing the said libelous matter or a similar one against his person.

The trial Judge, Justice Amanze Chikwendu ruling on the request by the counsel to the claimant for an adjournment, which unanimously was agreed by the defense counsel, obliged their request and adjourned the hearing of preliminary till December.

Addressing journalists after the court proceedings, counsel to the claimant, Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) and the defence counsel Charles Enwelunta took different stands on the matter on hand, especially concerning if the choice of words used by the writer and publishing company in describing the claimant were in order.

Meanwhile, the court threw away an application for the award of N200,000.00 presented by the defense counsel for cost accrued due to adjournment of the case because of inability of the claimant to respond which the former said was also due to inability of defense counsel to file an application when expected.

22 police recruits in Ilorin arraigned for using fake documents

At least 22 police recruits, training at the Police Training College in Ilorin, were arraigned in court on a four-count charge on Friday for allegedly using fake documents to secure employment.

They were accused of criminal conspiracy, forgery, impersonation and using a false document. The prosecuting counsel, David Woodi and Sgt. Matthew Ologbonsaye, told the courts that the men were arrested after a screening revealed the documents to be falsified.

The aspiring police officers pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr. Shina Ibiyemi, director of the Legal Aid Council in Kwara, representing the accused pleaded for bail, which prosecutors argued against, asking that the courts remand the accused pending completion of the investigation.

Ibiyemi argued that the court ought to maintain the men innocent until they are proven guilty, adding that the accused persons would present reliable sureties.

In his ruling, Magistrate Wahab Saka granted bail in the sum of N50,000 to 11 of the accused trainees, with a surety each.

On the other hand, a Magistrate Shuaib Olanikewu granted bail to the other 11 accused under similar bail bond, but insisted that the surties swear to an affidavit of means before the court registrar, reports said.

The respective cases were adjourned till April 12 and April 14 in their respective courts.