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CJN seeks financial autonomy for judiciary, others

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A cross section of the new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) during their inauguration in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

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• NBA faults process leading to Onnoghen’s retirement

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, yesterday sought financial autonomy for the judiciary to enable that arm of government perform its functions more creditably.

He spoke in Abuja while conferring the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on the Solicitor General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Adedayo Apata, Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, and 36 others a part of activities to open the 2019/2020 Legal Year of the Supreme Court.

He regretted that the current scenario where the judiciary goes cap in hand begging for funds was jeopardising its independence.

Muhammad noted that the yearly budget of the sector was a far cry, stating that the figure had sustained a dwindling profile for a long time.

“The only thing I can do at this juncture is to plead with all concerned to let us enjoy our independence,” he said.

The CJN however stated that the judiciary, to an extent, had been forthright in conducting its affairs and taking decisions without external influences.

His words: “At the Supreme Court, like I have always said, we are totally independent in the way we conduct our affairs, especially in our judgments.

“We do not pander to anybody’s whims and caprices. If there is any deity to be feared, it is the Almighty God. We will never be subservient to anybody, no matter his position in the society.”

The nation’s topmost judicial officer urged the relevant authorities to improve the salaries and welfare packages of jurists, especially after retirement.

He added: “Retired judges should be accorded the benefits of annual medical treatment locally and abroad if the need arises.”

Also speaking, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro (SAN), faulted the process leading to the eventual retirement of Justice Walter Onnoghen as CJN.

He submitted that the procedure “showed a brazen external intrusion and interference in the disciplinary processes of the judiciary in a manner that undermined its independence and, by extension, the rule of law.”

Usoro went on: “The process was not only contrary to the provisions of our laws, but also degraded and desecrated the hallowed dignity that attaches to the office of the CJN.

“Lest we be misunderstood, the Bar is not suggesting that anyone, including the CJN, is above the law.

“However, there is a National Judicial Council (NJC) process that is prescribed by law for investigating and disciplining errant judicial officers.

“The process is put in place to preserve the dignity that attaches to the office of judicial officers and to secure the independence of the judiciary.”

He congratulated the new silks, reminding them to sustain the outstanding qualities that stood them out of the crowd.

In his remarks, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), called on judges not to bow to pressure from politicians in the course of dispensing justice at the election tribunals.


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