Events That Will Shape Judiciary in 2017

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As the year 2017 gets underway, no doubt the judiciary in Nigeria is set to witness some defining events and cases. Some of them are presented below:

Onnoghen’s confirmation as CJN

The confirmation or not of Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) will be a defining moment in the country’s judiciary. Following his swearing on November 11, 2016 the end of his acting tenure is February 11. It is now left for President Muhammadu Buhari to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation in line with constitutional provision.

Zakzaky’s release after 45 days

The order of a Federal High Court in Abuja for the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife within 45 days was not appealed by the federal government. Nigerians want to know if the order will be obeyed.

Sambo Dasuki’s trial

Although the trial of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, both at the Federal and FCT High Courts, could not kick off in 2016, there are high hopes that the trials will properly commence this year. This is even as Dasuki and his counsels are hoping the federal government honours the three bails already granted to him as well as the order of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

The trial of arrested judges 

Four judges have been charged with corruption and judicial misconduct. Of the list, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court have taken their pleas.

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How will Nnamdi Kanu be tried?

Which judge will eventually handle the trial of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu? After three judges heard the case, the judge currently hearing it, Justice Binta Nyako on December 14, 2016 approved the shielding of witnesses for his trial. Again Kanu protested the decision insisting he be tried in the open.

Bukola Saraki’s case 

The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki over allegations of false and anticipatory declaration of assets.

So far only the cross examination of the first prosecution witness, out of four expected witnesses, has been concluded since the trial commenced in 2015.

The trial of senior military officers 

The conclusion of the trial of senior military officers indicted in arms deals will be one of the anticipated events of 2017.  Some of the officers presently undergoing trial are:  Former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh;   former Air Chiefs, AVM Mohammed Dikko Umar and  AVM Adesola Amosu. Other officers who faced the judicial process include: AVM T. Omenyi (MD, NAF Holdings); AVM R.A. Ojuawo (Air Force Tactical Air Command, Makurdi); Col N. Ashinze (Special Military Assistant to former NSA Sambo Dasuki).

The trial of ex-governors

The trial of some former state governors in various courts have dragged on for many years causing observers to hope the cases will see conclusion in 2017. Some of the governors are: Joshua Dariye (Plateau); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Murtala Nyako and Umar Fintiri (Adamawa); Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); and Sule Lamido (Jigawa).

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Will Tompolo appear for trial?

After the EFCC filed a 40 counts charge against former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo and a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Patrick Akpobolokemi on charges of misappropriation of billions of naira, Tompolo has not appeared.

What happens to Diezani’s $153m refund order?

Following the order of a Federal High Court in Lagos for interim order of forfeiture of the sum of $153 million against former minister of petroleum Diezani Allison-Madueke, Nigerians want to know what happens next. Will Diezani appeal the order? Or will the federal government enforce it?

Will trial or plea bargain settle Metuh’s case?

Former Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, who is standing trial for receiving the sum of N400 million arms funds from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, for the party’s 2015 campaign activities had requested to refund the money in a plea bargain deal in August, 2016. It will be interesting to see whether the case is decided by trial or by the plea bargain deal.

What happens to Jibrin’s case?

Nigerians are watching how the fundamental right suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja filed by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, on behalf of the former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin will go.  He was suspended for 180 days following his allegation of ‘padding’ of the budget for ‘constituency projects’ in the House. The members of the House also petitioned him to the EFCC for alleged corruption.

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Patience Jonathan’s fate after account freeze order?

A Federal High Court in Lagos on December 23, 2016 ordered the freezing of the multiple bank accounts of Patience Jonathan, wife of former president Goodluck Jonathan. How the latest order on the probe pans out will shape the judiciary in 2017.

PDP Chairmanship dispute

The legal dispute over the National Chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi is presently before the Appeal Court. Before it got to the court, there were about 12 different suits filed in various courts over the dispute. Political observers want to know how the case ends in 2017.

Abia governorship dispute

What happens in the governorship dispute between Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and Uche Ogah in the dispute over the PDP governorship candidacy? Ikpeazu was asked to vacate his seat over alleged irregularities in his tax clearance certificate. The Supreme Court will provide the answers in 2017.

What happens to T.B. Joshua building engineers?

Following the collapse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos that left 116 people dead, many of them South Africans in 2014, the church founder, T.B. Joshua was not arraigned but two engineers were charged with negligence and involuntary manslaughter. Various legal challenges have stalled the hearing of the matter. How far can the case go in 2017?

Source: Daily Trust

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