Challenges Before The New CJN

Challenges Before The New CJN

PRESIDENT  Muhammadu Buhari,  recently swore in Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad as the new substantives Chief Justice of Nigeria.  His appointment was  earlier confirmed by the Senate .

 President Buhari had on January 25, appointed Justice Muhammad to replace the former CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen who was suspended from office for failure to properly declare his assets as prescribed by the law. Justice Onnoghen was eventually convicted on April 18 by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, which found him guilty on all six-count charge the Federal Government preferred against him.

 WE therefore welcome His Lordship to the most exalted position in Nigerian judiciary and enjoin him to contribute his quotas to the development and advancement of dispensation of justice in the country. No doubt, Justice Muhammad comes at a trying moment for the nation’s Judiciary. We are not unconscious of the scandals and corrupt charges against some Judges, most especially the conviction of immediate past Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen by the Code of Conduct bureau.

IT is disheartening to note that evidences showing that the Bench is drenched in corruption  which are widespread. Kayode Eso, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, before he died, raised the alarm that “billionaire Judges” were rampant. Also, former President of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami, alleged that some  retired senior justices were acting as conduits of bribes to Judges on behalf of litigants seeking to pervert the course of justice. The former CJN, Mahmud Mohammed once disclosed through John Fabiyi, a Justice of the Supreme Court, at an event that 64 judges “were disciplined as appropriate,” between 2009 and 2014.

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 MARIAM Aloma-Mukhtar inherited 139 petitions against corrupt judges and before she bowed out of office as the CJN in November 2014, some fresh 198 cases were filed during her 28-month tenure, out of which 33 were considered worthy of attention. She said, “15 are awaiting responses from Judges” as of November 2014.

RANKING closely behind that, according to a  survey conducted in 2017, were use of delay tactics by lawyers; bribery of court officials; lawyers  active role in disobeying court orders/blocking enforcement of orders and judgments; rudeness and impolite attitude among lawyers.

THE survey revealed that prosecutors would vehemently “oppose bail when not paid; but would not oppose bail no matter how serious the charge may be or how simple for the defendant to jump bail as long as money has been paid.”

APPARENTLY Nigeria is at the crossroads today simply because of the hypocritical attitude of the nation’s judicial authorities, especially the National Judicial Council, the apex disciplinary body chaired by the CJN, which has been lackadaisical  in pushing for corrupt Judges’ prosecution the way it is done in civilised jurisdictions.

NO doubt, some bad eggs are in Nigeria’s judicial system. We therefore enjoin His Lordship to  deal with petitions against Judges that are pending before the NJC and ensure that they  are dealt with timeously so that those found culpable could serve as  a lesson to others  that all citizens are indeed equal before the law. This is the hallmark of modern societies. Action is urgently needed.

WE  also think that he should look at Mr. Festus Keyamo’s position during the  senate screening to unbundle the Supreme Court into six with a view to fast tracking quick dispensation of cases. Our position is that justice delayed is justice denied. The clean up of the judiciary should be total. Some lawyers routinely play key roles in corrupting judges. If caught, they should be prosecuted. By and large, a corruption-free judiciary is a collective responsibility. That is why it is critical that all Nigerians should see it as a national duty by forwarding credible petitions to the NJC against any corrupt judge.

Challenges Before The New CJN

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