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Independence of the Judiciary in Nigeria is Now Or Never – By Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.


The battle for the Independence of the Judiciary in Nigeria is now or never.

Bar Leaders act as if things are ok.

The Nigerian Judiciary is under siege from Politicians and it is now a laughing stock by the Public and the International community.

Injunctions are now common place, even those that determine the main Matter at Ex Parte or Interlocutory Stage.

We lost it during the Onnogen Case. Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen the then Chief Justice of Nigeria was removed from Office with a Exparte Order by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, who is equivalent to a Magistrate and we all stood by and watched. What a shame!

I said it then, that it was not about Onnoghen, but it was about the desecration of an Institution that is sacred. That desecration is now hunting us all.

Now things have become sore and even more dire.

Citizens will seek Injunctions against Governments, when they have established legal rights, have shown the urgency in the Matter, shown that the balance of convenience is on their side and that damages will not adequately compensate them for the looming losses, if the Injunction is not granted and they are denied the Injunction, which necessarily is concomitant from the facts of their case.

In the converse, Government and forces in and around Government seek for even Ex Parte Injunctions, when they have not shown any established legal right, where the Order sought will one way or other determine issues in Controversy and the Injunctions are granted, even in the face of insufficient affidavit evidence and the Law which precludes such Judicial Indiscretions.

Justices Taslim Elias, Fatai Atade Williams, Chukwudifu Oputa, Udo Udoma, Aniagolu, Mohammed Bello, Peter Irekefe, will all be crying in their grave, lamenting the State of Nigerian Judiciary.

The Bar Must rise up to the Occasion.

The Appointment Process of Judges must be taken out of the purview of Politicians. In this regard, we must amend the Constitution to leave Judicial Appointments to Judicial Authorities alone.

We must also move against those Judges who are associated with Politicians and which Associations show in their Rulings and Judgments. We know them. They should be forced to resign.

We will not be proud to bequeath this Judiciary to our Children. You might be gaining the system today, but you can become a victim tomorrow.

We should also fight for the Financial Independence of the Judiciary, as provided for by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), which provides thus:

“Any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the heads of the courts concerned”

There is no magic about the issue. Just pay the money standing to the credit of the Judiciary on first line Charge from the Consolidated Revenue Funds to the Heads of Court. It is that simple. What is hullabaloo about this? If you protect the Rule of Law, while in Office, the Rule of Law will protect you, while you are out of Office.

A situation where a Chief Judge goes to the Government House and beg for Money that is that of Judiciary and sometimes they are denied is completely unacceptable.

Those who Power should also know they will not be there forever. You will be a victim of the system tomorrow if you do not follow the Law. I promise you that.

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