The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Muhammad says the judiciary can not be blamed for delays in high profile cases.
The CJN’s position is contained in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media on Monday in Abuja.
He said the position of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) that the Judiciary be held responsible for delays in the trial and delivery of judgments in corruption cases involving politically exposed individuals appears to be one-sided.
“The Nigerian Judiciary is not here to lay claims to being perfect but when the political and economic conditions under which it is operating is compared with its counterparts in other climes, it would be adjudged a prize model.
“The Judiciary by its constitutional position does not have a criminal investigations unit or Fraud Detective Squad to detect and investigate criminal involvement of any person, neither does it have a garrison command to fight its cause or enforce its orders and decisions.
“More often than not, the Federal Government’s prosecution sector files more charges than it can prove or provide witnesses, at times as a result the prosecution even fails”.
He said that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015) under reference is infected with sores in some parts, making speeding adjudications impossible in some instances.
“In some instances the high volume of cases, limited number of judges, poor infrastructure or archaic equipment also contribute to the challenges”.
He noted that the federal government had while giving reasons for its under-funding of the Judiciary, on January 26, at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Justice Sector Summit 2022 in Abuja said that the Judiciary has not been transparent in the spending its yearly allocations.
“The Judiciary has refrained from joining issues all this while but to state the facts in line with the budget call circular and ceiling the Federal Government sent to the Judiciary before the beginning of the fiscal year.
”The,Judiciary prepares its budget estimates for capital, overhead and personnel costs according to the ceiling, needs and priority.
“The Judiciary defends its budget before the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Judiciary at the National Assembly, besides the initial vetting by the Executive.
“It also has an internal mechanism for budget control and implementation. Each Court and judicial body has a budget unit, the accounts department, internal audit, Due Process Unit, as well as Departmental Tenders Board.
“There is also a Due Process Committee at the NJC and the Judicial Tenders Board that award contracts on expenditure above the approval limit of the accounting officers of the Courts and judicial bodies”, he added.
He said the layers of control were established by the Judiciary to ensure transparency, accountability and effective budget implementation.
“Similarly, by virtue of Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly carries out oversight visits to the Judiciary to monitor the implementation of its budget.
“Section 88(2)(b) also mandates the National Assembly to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.
“The Executive also put in place some mechanism to monitor budget implementation and accountability in the Judiciary through its organs like the office of Accountant General of the Federation and Auditor General of the Federation, and other agencies where the need arises”.
According to him, apart from the internal audit units of the Judiciary, the Federal Audit Department maintains offices in all the courts and judicial bodies that monitor spending in the Judiciary.
“If the Federal Audit raises a query on any transaction and it is not well defended, it sends the report to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly and officials of the Judiciary would be invited to explain themselves.
“The question to ask is, who else should the Judiciary open its account books to, and who among these organs had raised exceptions which were not defended by the Third Arm?
The answer is none.
“One only hopes that these allegations against the Judiciary by the Federal Government is not just a way of giving a dog a bad name so as to hang it”, he concluded.
27 Rivers Assembly Lawmakers Dump PDP For APC
The Current political drama in Rivers State has taken a new turn as 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly have defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A member of the Assembly, Enemi George, confirmed to Channels Television that the 27 lawmakers were under the leadership of Martin Amaewhule.
He said the decision was taken during their sitting on Monday morning.
For weeks, Amaewhule and another member, Edison Ehie, have been embroiled in a Speakership tussle. Amaewhule is believed to be loyal to ex-governor Nyesom Wike while Ehie is known to be in the camp of Governor Siminalayi Fubara.
The Assembly under Amaewhule had in October served an impeachment notice on the governor and removed Ehie as the House leader. However, some members of the Assembly loyal to Fubara immediately impeached Amaewhule and made Ehie the new Speaker.
The crisis in the 32-member Assembly had begun as a result of a rift between Fubara and his predecessor, Wike, who is now the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Though the two politicians have both attended same public events in the last few weeks and all seemed to have been settled but with Monday’s defection of 27 lawmakers from the PDP to the APC, more drama might unfold in the state’s political arena.
Meanwhile, some political players from other parties over the weekend announced their defection to the PDP.
Leading the defectors from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the APC were the deputy governorship candidate of the SDP in the 2023 election, Patricia Ogbonnaya; and former Ahoada-West Chairman, Karibo Wilson.
They decamped alongside their supporters and other party excos.
The politicians dumped their former parties to pitch tent with the PDP group loyal to Fubara.
Also in attendance were some of the Ehie-led group of lawmakers, with the member representing Ahoada West, Goodboy Sokari representing the governor alongside Oko Jumbo from Bonny Constituency.
NJC Recommends Appointment Of 11 Supreme Court Justices
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the appointment of 11 justices to the Supreme Court.
A statement by the apex court’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, said the recommendation was made at the 104th meeting of the council in Abuja on Wednesday.
The recommended candidates would be sworn-in after the approval of their recommendation by President Bola Tinubu and the subsequent confirmation of their appointment by the Senate.
With this appointment, the apex court will have the full complement of 21 justices, as envisaged by the Constitution.
Those recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court are:
Hon. Justice Jummai Hannatu Sankey, OFR
Hon. Justice Chidiebere Nwaoma Uwa
Hon. Justice Chioma Egondu Nwosu-Iheme
Hon. Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani
Hon. Justice Moore Aseimo A. Adumein
Hon. Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya
Hon. Justice Stephen Jonah Adah
Hon. Justice Habeeb Adewale O. Abiru
Hon. Justice Jamilu Yammama Tukur
Hon. Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar
Hon. Justice Mohammed Baba Idris
The NJC at its last meeting for the year also recommended the appointment of Justice Mohammed Ramat to the Court of Appeal, as well as six heads of courts and 26 other judicial officers.
The various Heads of Court recommended would also be sworn-in upon the approval of their appointment by their various State Governors and subsequent confirmation of same by their respective State Houses of Assembly.
CJN Urges Judges To Remain Fair In Judgements
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has asked Judges to maintain the integrity that the Judiciary is known for and remain fair and firm in their Judgements.
The CJN was speaking at the opening of the special session of the 2023/2024 Legal year and Swearing-in of 58 newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria In Abuja.
Ariwoola added that he expects every judicial officer to work very hard and also be very honest and courteous to the litigants, witnesses and members of the bar, and discharge all their judicial functions with all the humility at your command.
While pledging to safeguard the rule of law, the holistic independence of the judiciary and the trust and confidence of the public, the CJN further reiterated the determination of the Judiciary, not to be overwhelmed by the sentiments of the public in their decisions.
He stated that the law remained the law, no matter whose interest was involved.
He charged them that In all they do, as interpreters of the law, they should endeavour to severe the strings of emotion from logic and assumption from fact.
The CJN further reminded the judges that it is necessary to have at the back of their minds that public opinions, sentiments or emotions can never take the place of the law in deciding the cases that come before them.
He stated that the Judiciary, as it is today, is more deserving of public trust and confidence than ever before; and they are poised to reposition it for effective justice delivery to make the country a destination of note in the observance of the rule of law and tenets of Constitutionalism.
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