Tag Archives: #Courts

President Buhari Says To NBA, Judicial Reforms Urgently Needed, Recalling Experience With Prolonged Courts Trials

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, is a statement issued today says. When Asks: “Why can’t we have time limits for all cases?

In what is deemed a significant contribution to the ongoing public discourse on the need to urgently reform the administration of justice system in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari’s voice has brought a sharp focus to the matter especially regarding the slow pace of trials in the courts.

Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, the President entered the discourse on Wednesday at the opening session of the virtual 2020 Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) Annual General Conference themed “Step Forward” which coincides with the body’s 60th anniversary.

Speaking on the theme of the conference which he said translates into “taking responsibility”, President Buhari explained that the situation has become necessary given the current and pre-existing challenges confronting the system.

According to the President, “why can’t we have time limits for all cases? Why can’t we put in place the rules that will say that a criminal trial all the way up to the Supreme Court must end in 12 months, and that a civil trial must not exceed 12-15 months? I think that, for me, will be stepping forward.

“Step forward means taking responsibility. It may also mean making progress, boldly taking on the challenges of the future.”

The President listed a few areas where “I believe we need to step forward and resolve some of the nagging problems of our systems of administration of justice.”

Going personal on the issue of delay in trials, the President referred to his experience at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunals in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2019. He said until recently, court trials had been “terribly slow” and capable of frustrating genuine efforts aimed at promoting general progress of the society.

He said “I am not a lawyer but I have been both a casualty and a beneficiary of the judicial process. I was before the courts for two and a half years- 27 months from 2003 in the now famous case of Buhari and Obasanjo. It took me two and a half years to fight for a four-year Presidential mandate.

“In 2007, I was again in court for 20 months, almost two years, also as petitioner and later then appellant in the case of Buhari and INEC. And in 2011, again as petitioner in the case of CPC and INEC. I spent another 8 months in court. At the end, I lost all three cases. I wondered then why it needed to take so long to arrive at a verdict.

“In 2019, my status improved, I was now no longer petitioner, I became first respondent in the case of Atiku and Buhari and the whole process took barely 6 months.”

Still on the areas requiring reform, President Buhari said “the second issue for me is the multiple and sometimes conflicting orders of courts. Recently, my party, the APC, had an internal crisis. In the six-week period before I chaired the meeting of the party to resolve the issues, there were at least 10 different conflicting rulings of the courts across the country.

“Again I am not a lawyer, but surely these sort of multiple and conflicting rulings of courts sometimes ex parte, really make a mockery of the judicial process.”

Continuing, the President said “third issue is the seeming bias towards technicality over the clear common sense justice of cases. If justice is to be seen to be done, then the outcomes of cases must make sense to the average person and not just to the refined minds of learned persons alone. Justice must make sense to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.”

My fourth issue, the President said, “is on the appointment of judges. I believe that we must continuously improve on the selection processes for appointment of the men and women who serve as judges.”

“First we must cast our nets wider in search of judges, especially at the appellate level. Second we must put in place primarily merit-based selection processes including mandatory tests and interviews for all applicants for judgeships.

“While our Constitution urges Federal character for balance, this is not an excuse for mediocrity. If a particular zone is to produce a judge why can’t we find the best talents in that zone. Our country has excellent men and women everywhere,” the President said.

President noted that “Reform is urgent because the fabric of our society is stitched together by our system of justice and law enforcement. We cannot afford to have the stitches come undone.”

While urging stakeholders in the sector to further leverage technology to enhance the speed of court processes, the President said “digitization of court processes, records and services is very much the new frontier of justice delivery and will dramatically enhance access to justice and affect trial timelines.”

Speaking on his administration’s efforts at addressing security concerns, President Buhari said his government acknowledges the apprehensions of the people, and restated the commitment to address them.

He however noted that “the fight against insecurity and to establish law and order, requires the full cooperation of all especially the various structures for law enforcement and administration of justice at all levels,” referring to how both the Federal Government and the States need to work together on prosecuting criminal cases for instance.

“If like some of us, you listen to the radio, you will often hear ordinary people asking questions about why criminals have not been sent to jail. So for example, they would ask why a suspected murderer has not being prosecuted. Of course the question many will ask is, ‘so, what is Buhari doing about that?’.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad restated the commitment of the judiciary to adapt to changes within and around its environment, citing the adoption of virtual court proceedings as an example.

He said the judiciary under his watch will not condone practices that have, over the years, negatively impacted the image of the justice sector, noting that abuse of court processes, among others would no longer be tolerated.

The week-long event will feature discussions and presentations by distinguished personalities and scholars with a focus on the theme “Step Forward”. He concluded.

Clash of Court Orders, Gov. Obaseki On A Confused Political Rollercoaster

In another twist the Governor of Edo State and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, will participate in Thursday June 25 primaries of the party ahead of September governorship election in the state.

This is as a result of a High Court of Justice in Ekpoma Judicial Division, Edo State restrained the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others from removing, preventing or purporting to exclude the Edo State Governor, Obaseki, or any other aspirant, who have been cleared by the party, from participating in the gubernatorial primaries.

The Judge, J. O. Okeaya-Inneh, ruling in a suit filed by Felix Irioh and Tom Irehobhude, said in a ruling that:

“I find in my humble view that the applicants have satisfied the guidelines for the grant of the orders sought as enjoined in the celebrated landmark case of Kotoye v CBN (1989), 1 NWLR PT. 98, 419 at 441.”

The judge further added that:

“The balance of convenience is in favour of the 1st and 2nd applicants and there is no undue delay in bringing this application. It is in that light that I find merit in this application.”

The defendants in the suit are Dr. Tony Aziegbemi, the PDP, Hon. Andy Ikhajiangbe, Peter Akhimien and INEC.

The applicants sought “an Order of Interim Injunction restraining INEC from however refusing to recognize and/or accept the name of any of the aspirants named in paragraph 2 above especially Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki as lawful aspirants having been lawfully screened and cleared by the 2nd Defendant to participate in the 2nd primary election scheduled to hold on the 25th June, 2020 in any report of the monitoring of the said primaries pending the hearing of the Motion On Notice.”

The judge adjourned the matter to July 1, 2020, for hearing of pending applications.

The order documents below:

We shouldn’t forget that earlier on Gov. Obaseki was ban via an order given on 22nd June, 2020, by Justice E. A. Obile of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.

The order was based on a motion Ex-Parte filed by a PDP member, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama.

Joined in the suit are Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Chairman of the party’s screening committee, Kingsley Chinda and other members of the committee.

Obaseki, an APC renegade, was named as the eighth defendant in the case.

The applicant dought for a court order to restrain Secondus and the party from allowing Obaseki to buy the forms for the primary, other than those who bought the forms within the timetable initially published for the election.

Justice Obile granted the interim injunction as requested.

The PDP, mindful of the legal minefield announced a waiver for Obaseki, to enable him to participate in the primary election, even though he joined the party only on Friday 19 June last week.

The party also reconvened the Chinda screening committee which had ended its assignment on 5th June, 2020 and the committee screened Obaseki on Saturday 20 June.

And all the parties in the suit had been served with the earlier order via substituted means.

With this new Court Order from the Edo State High Court, we now have two conflicting order of court of coordinate jurisdiction in display, this is a ticking time bomb for both PDP and Obaseki in the long run and this political roller-coaster if care is not taken will only lead to further complications, which end result will be devastating.

Hopefully, the governor will avoid the banana peels in the end.

APC Wade Through Crisis And APPOINTs Edo 2020 Primary Election Committee

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) rose from a meeting at the Party’s National Secretariat on Wednesday affirming Sen. Abiola Ajimobi as the Party’s Acting National Chairman following the Appeal Court’s ruling affirming the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman and in line with Section 14.2 (iii) of the Party’s Constitution.

Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the National Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC), made available the information of the party’s attempt to look forward on its looming crisis, ahead of the Edo State Election.

“Due to Sen. Ajimobi’s unavoidable absence, NWC unanimously appointed the Party’s National Vice Chairman (South South), Prince Hilliard Etta to act on Sen. Ajimobi’s behalf, an action backed by the Party’s constitution which empowers the NWC to appoint one of its members in acting capacity and stipulates that the Acting National Chairman must be from the zone of the National Chairman.”

Also, committees for the Party’s Edo State Governorship Primary Election scheduled for Monday 22nd June, 2020 and Election Appeal scheduled for Wednesday 24th June, 2020 were also named by the party.

Primary Election Committee

  1. Governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodinma – Chairman
  2. Sen. Ajibola Bashiru – Secretary
  3. Alh. Abdullahi Abass
  4. Hon. Ibrahim Sabo
  5. Hon. Ocho Obioma
  6. Hajia Amina Lantana Muhammed
  7. Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye

Primary Election Appeal

  1. Prof. Mustapha Bello – Chairman
  2. Dr. Kayode Ajulo – Secretary
  3. Hon. Umar Ahmed
  4. Nasiru Ibrahim Junju
  5. Hon. Rasaq Mahmud Bamu

The party also noted that the recent ruling of a High Court which declared Hon. Igo Aguma as the Party’s Acting Chairman in Rivers State. In compliance with the court ruling, our party has recognised Aguma as Rivers State Acting Chairman pending when new congress is held.

The congresses will be held to elect party executive members at the ward, local government and state levels.

Sixteen members of the NWC attended the meeting held at the Party’s National Secretariat (13 members attended physically and three others joined the meeting online).