The Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum and Chief Nwodo discuss the reasons behind “Nigeria’s dysfunction” at the 17th Gani Fawehinmi’s lecture in Lagos earlier today.
Professor Zulum was one of the two guest speakers at the 17th Gani Fawehinmi’s lecture organized by the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, which held on Friday in Lagos.
Zulum, who reminded audience that he was not a constitutional lawyer but an engineer, was in Lagos in honour of an invitation by the NBA, to honour late Fawahinmi, who he respects for his courage and selfless contributions as a defender of underprivileged masses.
Governor Zulum, alongside Chief John Nnia Nwodo, presented papers on the theme, “constitutional history of Nigeria’s dysfunction: Any pathway to indivisibility and common progress?”.
The two speakers analyzed historic developments and complexities of the Nigerian constitution, highlighting serious challenges facing the country and its citizens. They challenged both leaders and citizens to do their separate paths in making Nigeria great.
Governor Zulum, in his presentation, argued that the constitution has concentrated too much powers on the federal government, noting also, that the constitution needs to be amended in ways that will reflect present realities and for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Zulum also challenged journalists to remain firm In holding political leaders to the promises they make during electioneering campaigns.
Zulum, who will be using his time in Lagos to hold some developmental activities in the interest of Borno people, travelled with his chief of staff, commissioners of justice, information and local government and emirate affairs.
Speakers at the lecture made far reaching contributions all of which point to many issues with Nigerian constitution that need to be seriously addressed.
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.
The former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sunusi II has also lent his voice to the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai’s saga with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), where he was quoted to have said:
“If you have an opinion, people will either agree or disagree with you. But a man who has an opinion that can be agreed with or disagreed with is always better than a man who has no opinion at all.
“Nasir has always had opinions. He knows what his position is on things. He says that position very clearly. People will like it, some people will not like it. And that is what people call being controversial, being controversial is actually having an opinion. If you don’t want to be controversial, you just behave like these teflons, flexible, just flow with the wind and nobody knows where you stand…
“I think the case of the crisis in Kaduna, first of all is something that predates this government. It has been on for a long time. And the governor is doing something about it. The North as a whole suffers because we have people who profit from division. We have divided ourselves against each other, whether it is ethnicity of religion.
“And when you have someone who says I am simply going to stand for justice, for the rights of human beings and doing what is right, some people who are not used to things being done in that way are going to object. I am sure that His Excellency knows that with every single issue, there will be people who will object.
“I read the petition. I was looking for the specific allegation. You said somebody does not respect the rule of law, what is the specific instance of disrespect for the rule of law. You say somebody has mishandled a crisis. What is the specific manner in which he mishandled the crisis?
“If you going to take action on people based on allegations, the President of the NBA himself has allegations against him that have not been proven, but nobody has said anything about him because it this is a matter that is before a court of law, and people will wait for the court to decide because everybody has a right to fair hearing.
“More important for me, if you feel that the governor of Kaduna State is not doing well, you should invite him to your conference and ask him and let him explain what he is doing and tell him what you think he is doing wrong. You will learn something from him, he will learn something from him. Disinviting him is not the path of people who actually want progress. Because if you disagree with someone , having him in your hall where you can tell him your view is the best way and he can defend himself. And if there are things he needs to improve he will take them on board. And if there are things that you don’t know that he is doing, you can be better informed. That is the best way to handle issues like this.
“I hope that this matter will not be turned into a religious and ethnic matter. It should be a matter of principle. I think it is their loss because if he was there he would add value to the conference and they would learn something about what he is doing.
“It is sad for the NBA itself and it is sad for freedom of speech, and also fair hearing.
“I have known Nasir since we were 16/17. He is a nationalist. He has never been associated with any ethnic or religious bigotry. All our friends are Nigerians. People don’t even think of us as northerners because really we are just Nigerians.
“Anybody who knows him will tell you that he is just a Nigerian. Look at the people that he works with, look at the people around him, look at his friends. He has not surrounded himself with people from a particular ethnic group or a particular religious persuasion. He has friends all over, pastors, reverends, imams. It is is sad that anybody can accuse him in any way of being partisan in the matter.
One of the lawyers made a comment and I think it is something that we should bear in mind. He is a governor in charge of lives and property in the state. He is the number one person concerned with peace in Kaduna because if there is no peace, he is responsible. You can’t have people crying more than the bereaved. If we do not assist him, the least we can do is pray for him, and give him a chance and advice him.”
“Needless to say, this is a sad thing. I am his friend, but His Excellency is wrong, I will say it. If I am wrong, he will say it and we would still be friends. But on this matter, it does more to the discredit of the NBA. This is one less speaking engagement.
The most important thing that Kaduna State should have peace. We should not complicate efforts at peace-building. I read today that the groups are meeting and I hope and pray that they will reach a compromise and we will see peace in the state. That is the most important thing, not speaking at NBA or what NBA says, but that there should be peace in Kaduna State and in this country.” He concluded.
The NBA And The Katsina State Judiciary Battle Over Fraudulent Release of Kidnappers – DAILY WATCH PRESS
Malam Kabiru Shua’aibu, the Chief Registrar, Katsina State High Court in a statement made available clear the air, where he said:
“The NBA Katsina has, through its Assistant Secretary called a Press Conference on the above case where he alleged that one of their members is being persecuted. It has become necessary to respond to clear the facts for the general public to know the true position of the issues raised by the NBA.
On 9th March, 2020 the Registrar of High Court No. 7, Katsina presided over by Hon. Justice Baraka I. Wali conspired with some staff and lawyers and fraudulently presented false Court Order, Bail Bond and Release Order purportedly issued by the presiding Judge of Court 7 to facilitate release from custody 2 suspects/accused persons who have been on remand at the Katsina Correctional Centre on the orders of Chief Magistrate I, Katsina where the suspects were arraigned and remanded pending filing of formal charge at the High Court since the Chief Magistrate has no jurisdiction to try the offences the accused/suspects were arraigned on, which involves Conspiracy, Kidnapping and Belonging to Gang of Thieves.”
The Chief Registrar revealed that a false order was used to secure the release of the Kidnapped suspects:
“The said Registrar along with others conspired, prepared a ruling purportedly given by Hon. Justice Baraka I. Wali and fraudulently presented false Court Order, Bail Bond and Release Order to the Hon. Chief Judge who, believing the documents to be genuine, signed and the said documents presented to the Officer-in-charge of the Correctional Centre from where the suspects were eventually released.
The Hon. Chief Judge became aware of the matter when the Legal Officer of the Dept. of State Service complained that the accused/suspects have been released and have committed another kidnap and even killed one person at Mararrabar Kankara in Malumfashi Local Government while the Dept. as complainant was never served the processes of the application for their bail.”
He further asserts that:
“This led to the Hon. Chief Judge calling for the case file and Register of cases from the Central Registry where it was discovered that the application for the bail was never officially filed and registered.
It was further discovered that the case no. assigned to the file KTH/198M/2020 had earlier been assigned to a civil motion. It was discovered that U. D. Farouk Esq. a Principal Legal Officer with the Legal Aid Council filed the bail application with his signature and official N.B.A. seal The said lawyer also perfected the bail conditions by introducing the suerties after presenting a forged introduction letter from the District Head of Kankara where the accused/suspects hailed from having found that the conduct and acts of the Registrar and his coconspirators amounted to judicial fraud and offences relating to Administration of Justice under sections 124, 125, 141 and 148 of the Penal Code Law of Katsina State, the Hon. Chief Judge directed that a formal complaint should be forwarded to the Dept. of State Service for the matter to be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken as the acts and conducts constitute not only offences but a threat to National Security and general administration of justice.
The Dept. of State Service having conducted preliminary investigation invited and interrogated all those involved including the District Head of Kankara whose letter of introduction of suerities was forged, the officer in charge of Katsina Central Correctional Centre and detained the principal suspects and arraigned them before a Chief Magistrate Court for cognizance. In the meantime, the U. D. Farouk undertook before the Hon. Chief Judge to facilitate re-arrest of the fraudulently released suspects and the Dept. of State Service obliged but for over one week he was not able to do so and he was also detained and arraigned to court.
When application for the bail of the court officials, the lawyer and others involved in the fraudulent release was filed before High Court no. 6 was refused, the NBA. knows the appeal option available but rather decided to appeal to the public court through press conference. The claim that U.D. Farouk did not commit any offence cannot stand as it is only a court of law that can determine that. The Hon. Chief Judge thereafter constituted a Committee to investigate the infractions internally.”
“The Committee composed of a Judge as chairman with the Solicitor-General, Ministry of Justice, the Chief Registrar High Court, Representative of Commissioner of Police, Representative of Director Dept. of State Service, Chairman N.B.A. as members and Director litigation as secretary (all members of the committee are lawyers and members of the NBA.) The Committee has just submitted its report which is being studied for appropriate action.
For the avoidance of doubt, we have never stated that the Hon. Chief Judge was deceived into freeing notorious kidnappers as being reported in some on-line and social media channels.” He concluded.