Buhari Swears In Onnoghen As Acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria

walter-onnoghenPresident Muhammadu Buhari has sworn in Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in acting capacity.

At the swearing in ceremony on Thursday President Buhari asked the Acting Chief Judge to be on his toes, as his swearing in came at a time the nation was going through trying times.

The President congratulated the predecessor, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, for a job well done and asked Justice Onnoghen to join hands with the administration to tackle insecurity and corruption in the land.

Justice Onnoghen, the most senior judge in the Supreme Court, is replacing Justice Mohammed, who attained the mandatory 70 years retirement age.

Justice Onnoghen will act pending the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria by the President, who would have to forward the name of the appointee to the Senate for confirmation.

However, the National Judicial Council had on October 5 formally received the nomination of Justice Onnoghen as the new CJN for onward recommendation to President Buhari.

NJC Is Investigating Complaints Against Judges – Chief Justice

CJN, Recession, Nigeria
The CJN says the arrests are regrettable.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council,
Justice Mahmud Mohammed, says the council is investigating various complaints made against a number of judicial officers.

Some of the officials are those arrested few weeks ago by some security operations for allegation of corruption and misconduct.

A statement by the spokesman for the Chief Justice, said that as soon as such investigations were completed, appropriate recommendations would be made to the President or Governors who would have the final say on the affected judicial officers.

He further stated that the judges would be charged for the offences disclosed from the facts against them and be prosecuted if necessary.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria again condemned the sting operations carried out by the Department of State Services (DSS) on October 7 and October 8 against some judicial officers, saying it was a clear assault on the independence of the Nigerian Judiciary.

On the call by President of the Nigerian Bar Association, to suspend Judicial Officers whose residences were invaded and who were subsequently arrested and detained by the DSS, the Chief Justice said the call was unnecessary and hasty, as the said Judicial Officers were still being investigated by the DSS.

“The DSS is yet to forward any complaint or any official communication regarding the seven Judicial Officers to the National Judicial Council,” the statement read.

Justice Mohammed further said that some of the affected Judicial Officers had already been investigated by the NJC, which found some culpable and recommended their removal from office by dismissal or retirement to the President and respective Governors as provided under the Constitution. ‎

On Friday, the NJC, in a statement dismissed the call by the NBA for the judges under investigation to proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established or until the conclusion of all judicial or disciplinary proceedings.

The NJC said that it would be unlawful for it to yield to the call by the NBA, as “that position breaches the 2014 revised judicial discipline regulations formulated by NJC pursuant to section 160 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended”.

Mahmud Mohammed Cautions Judges Against Delay In Judgement

Mahmud Mohammed, JudgesThe Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has called on judges in Nigeria to reduce the delays in dispensing justice.

However, the Chief Justice asked them never to sacrifice justice for speed.

For the second time within two days, Justice Mohammed took a swipe at judges who give conflicting judgements.

He observed that such action threatens the integrity and the independence of the judiciary in Nigeria.

The Judge stated that delays in dispensing justice in high profile cases and that of conflicting judgements were the major challenges that the judges must resolve in the new legal year.

He made the remarks on Tuesday at the second day of the Annual Judges Conference in Abuja, to mark the commencement of the 2016/2017 legal year.

Firmer And Unbiased Decisions

Justice Mohammed had earlier announced that the National Judicial Council (NJC) would probe judges involved in the recent conflicting judgments emanating from courts of equal jurisdiction.

He observed that the action of judges involved in conflicting judgments was embarrassing and warned against the politicising of the appointment of a Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Speaking at the same gathering, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Auta, asked the judges to be firmer and unbiased in their decisions.

Justice Auta, who highlighted the backdrop of the challenges and successes of the high courts during the last legal year, asked them to ensure that the decisions they take do not create room for anarchy.

NJC To Probe Judges Involved In Conflicting Judgments

Mahmud-NJC-Judges-CourtThe National Judicial Council (NJC) says it will probe judges involved in the recent conflicting judgments emanating from courts of equal jurisdiction.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, observed that the action of judges involved in conflicting judgments was embarrassing to the judiciary.

He announced the NJC’s decision on Monday at a special session to mark the commencement of the 2016/2017 legal year and the swearing in of 22 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria at the Supreme Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Justice Mohammed also warned against the politicising of the appointment of a Chief Justice of Nigeria.

He tasked the newly inducted senior advocates to be above board in the discharge of their professional duties.

The Chief Justice added that the council would not hesitate to sanction erring lawyers.

On his part, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud, advised the new Senior Advocates to be patriotic.

The Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Mister Olanrewaju Onadeko and the Secretary of the 2014 National Conference, Mrs Valerie Azinge, were among the new senior advocates.

They pledged the commitment of the new silks to uphold the ethics of the profession.

The conferment of the 22 Senior Advocates of Nigeria has increased the number of silks in the Nigerian Bar to 451.

Criminal Justice Reforms

Meanwhile, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has asked judges to be firmer and unbiased in their decisions.

Justice Auta, who highlighted the backdrop of the challenges and successes of the high courts during the last legal year, asked them to ensure that the decisions they take do not create room for anarchy.

Elsewhere, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo emphasised the need for far-reaching reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system and the decentralisation of the Nigeria Police Force for effective service delivery.

Professor Osinbajo made the call in Abeokuta, Ogun State’s capital at the 20th celebration of the death of the late Mrs Bisoye Tejuoso.

He expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to sustaining the anti-corruption crusade.

The Vice President asked Nigerians to rise up against corrupt individuals and groups who were bent on fighting back despite the genuine interest of government.

Supreme Court Gives EFCC Right To Prosecute EX-Gov Orji Kalu

Orji KaluThe Supreme Court in Nigeria has given the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) a ‘go-ahead’ to prosecute the former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, on a 107-count charge bordering on corruption.

The charge predicated on alleged complicity of the former Governor in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds of about 5.6 billion Naira.

Mr Kalu was alleged to have perpetuated the fraud between 1999 and 2007 while he was the Governor of Abia State.

The anti-graft agency had brought Mr Kalu before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on July 27, 2007. But through various interlocutory applications Mr Kalu had frustrated moves to open the case.

He had challenged the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine the case.

After the the trial court refused to quash the charge, Kalu, took the case before the Court of Appeal in Abuja which in a unanimous judgment, upheld the competence of the charge.

The Appeal Court stressed that the High Court had power to exercise jurisdiction on the trial, a ruling that Mr Kalu was not satisfied with.

He approached the Supreme Court, requesting that it set-aside the concurrent verdicts of the two lower courts.

The former Governor, through his lawyer, Mr Awa Kalu, pleaded with a five-man panel of Justices of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to quash the criminal charge against him.

He contended that “the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie nexus linking him to the ingredients of the offence contained in the charge and that the proof of evidence that the anti-graft agency presented against him did not nail him to the commission of any crime”.

In a unanimous judgment on Friday the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, asking the EFCC to carry on with the case.

Delivering the lead verdict, Justice Suleiman Galadima upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision, saying that the apex court was satisfied that the former Governor had a case to answer, pertaining to allegations that were levelled against him by the EFCC.

Abia Governorship Election: Supreme Court Gives Reasons For Judgement

Supreme courtThe Supreme Court has given reasons behind its earlier verdict setting aside Court of Appeal’s judgment which sacked Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu.

In an unanimous decision, the panel of Supreme Court justices agreed that the Lower Court erred by declaring the candidate of All Peoples Grand Alliance, Alex Otti the winner of the governorship election .

The panel led by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed held that the Appellate Court usurped the power of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is the only organ empowered to cancel polling results.

The court also faults the Lower Court’s reliance on card reader for its judgment.

According to the Apex Court, the card reader machine has no statutory backing in Nigeria’s law and should not be used to determine a winner in any election.

The panel also held that the allegation on voting was not proved as the petitioner failed to tender voter’s register to substantiate his claims.

Chief Justice Asks Lawyers To Shun Unethical Practice

Mahmud-MohammedThe Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman Body of Benchers, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has advised new lawyers to shun unethical practices in the legal profession.

Justice Mohammed warned the new lawyers to avoid dishonourable conducts exhibited by some senior members.

He said the lawyers had unanimously agreed that such conducts should be addressed urgently.

The Chief Justice made the remarks on Tuesday at the call to bar of 3,000 lawyers in Abuja.

Thousands of lawyers, who passed the 2015 bar examinations otherwise referred to as new wigs, gathered to be called to bar in Abuja.

One after the other, the successful students went for a hand shake with the chairman, body of benchers.

The Chief Justice ‎urged the new wigs to exhibit the highest level of professional ethics and decorum, stressing that the legal profession was known for its sanctity, integrity, honesty and respect for the rule of law.

The ceremony is held at least once a year to encourage young lawyers to stand on the side of justice.

Top government officials including deputy governors, ministers, traditional rulers and a host of others attended the huge ceremony.



Chief Justice Vows To Weed Out Corrupt Judicial Officers

judicial officersThe Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has vowed to weed out corrupt judicial officers in the judicial system of the nation.

This was part of Justice Mohammed’s speech while addressing the newly appointed Federal High Court Judges on Wednesday.

He described the judiciary as the most potent public service with power of life and death. He warned judicial officers to avoid using their power for personal gain.

“I wish to address the vest issue of judicial corruption. This is because allegations about corrupt judicial officers and staff now make headline news on more frequent basis.

“It is necessary for the judiciary to address this issue,” he said.

The Chief Justice also advised judges to avoid acts capable of delaying the administration of justice, saying that the appointment of the 30 judges was in response to the need to improve access to justice for all Nigerians.

S/Arabia Stampede: CJN Confirms Death Of Two Justices

S/Arabia Stampede: CJN Confirms Death Of Two JusticesThe Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has confirmed the death of two Court of Appeal justices among those who died during the deadly stampede at Mina, Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

A statement issued by the CJN gave the names of the deceased as Justice Abdulkadir Jega, who is the brother of the past INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega; and Justice Musa Hassan Alkali of the Ilorin Division.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, Gombe State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr Usman Arabia, says that some pilgrims have not been located since Thursday.

He added that members of the medical team had been checking hospitals and mortuaries with a view to locating them or their remains.

However, Mr Arabia noted that for now, it is yet to be confirmed whether they were among those who died as a result of Thursday’s incident at the stone throwing venue, where over 700 pilgrims died.

Constitution Amendment: Parties To Resolve Dispute Out Of Court

Constitution Amendment Dispute between FG and National AssemblyThe Supreme Court of Nigeria has given the Federal Government and the National Assembly 48 hours, to resolve the dispute arising from the 4th amendment of the constitution out of court.

The apex court directed the two parties to meet and harmonise their position on the ground that the issues in dispute, are so simple and can be resolve without the court’s intervention.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, gave the directive after the counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Bayo Ojo, agreed to explore an out of court settlement of the issue, after the court drew his attention to the fact that his application was defective.

The Supreme Court, however, asked the counsel to the National Assembly, Adeboyega Awomolo, to give an undertaking that he would advise his clients appropriately to maintain status quo, so as to explore an out of court resolution.

With both parties agreeing to meet and harmonise their position, the court adjourned the matter to Wednesday, May 27 for report on settlement or for further hearing.

The trouble started when the National Assembly threatened to veto the powers of President Goodluck Jonathan, for his refusal to sign the 4th amendment of the constitution into law.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Barrister Mohammed Adoke, then approached the court which in turn granted an order, urging both parties to maintain status quo, following an application by counsel to the Federal Government to substitute the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) with the President as the plaintiff in the case.

Mr Ojo was against the application by Mr Awomolo, that the originating surmount was defective as such, it should be struck out.

The court also disagreed with the Presidency on motion to substitute the plaintiff on the ground that even if the names were substituted, the originating surmount was still defective because the affidavit was deposed on behalf of the AGF.

On that ground, the AGF was advised to withdraw the summon and come before the court afresh or in the alternative explore out of court settlement.

The inability of Mr Awomolo to give an undertaking that the status quo will be maintained to preserve the last order, prompted the court to ask them to go and reconcile and report to the court on Wednesday.

Supreme Court Stops NASS From Amending 1999 Constitution

National Assembly The Supreme Court has stopped the National Assembly from taking further steps towards amending the 1999 Constitution.

Seven man panel of justices of the apex court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has ordered the National Assembly to maintain status quo on the matter until June 18.

Details to follow.

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.”