Judiciary would be Bold to Play Its Role if Its Independence was Guaranteed – Onnoghen

CJN Walter Onnoghen

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud have urged politicians to play by the rules as the nation prepares for the next general elections.

While Onnghen urged  politicians to ýconduct themselves lawfully so as not to endanger the peace and stability of the country, Mahmoud appealed to political actors, including those holding the reins of power at all levels, to respect and remain faithful to the Constitution.

They spoke at the opening ceremony of NBA’s 2018 national conference, with the theme: “Transition, transformation and sustainable institutions.”

Onnghen stressed the need for the continued protection of the independence of the Judiciary to enable it function effectively to safeguard the nation’s democracy.

The CJN noted that the Judiciary would be bold “to play its role without fear or favour” if its independence was guaranteed.

Mahmoud blamed the rising cases of insecurity on the failure of state institutions.

The NBA President, who said he recently led a team to assess the security situation in Zamfara State, said: “it appears to us that at the heart of these conflicts is a weakened state system.

“There appears to be systemic collapse of institutions of governance both at the local and state levels.

“In many parts of the state, as we have seen in other places, there is clear evidence of failure of the justice system.

“In Zamfara State many ordinary people complained to us about how the police, the court systems and traditional institutions have become avenues of extortion and oppression, and how the authority of bandits and other non-state actors is supplanting that of state agents.

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“At our town hall meeting in Gusau many speakers narrated stories of failure of formal systems of dispute resolution.

“Many spoke openly of the persistent absence of the governor from the state and his failure to provide effective leadership on the ground,”he said.

Mahmoud also blamed the nation’s inability to overcome its economic and developmental challenges on the absence of viable state institutions.

He said: “The NBA remains deeply concerned that our transformative journey to a stable prosperous country remains hampered by the absence of strong accountable and sustainable institutions.

*We are convinced that our huge potentials either as a country or as a continent, cannot not be unleashed until we overcome the challenge of institution building.

*Rule of law and democracy can only be guaranteed or anchored on strong institutions built on clear, fair and transparent processes with predictable outcomes.” he said.

Mahmoud commended the government for its prompt intervention during the last invasion of the National Assembly by security personnel.

He added: “We call on all security agencies to remain professional in their roles and also uphold the constitution whilst remaining loyal to constituted civil authority.

“The Nigerian Bar Association will remain vigilant in the defense of the constitution and the rule of law,” he said.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo is expected to address the conference today “to offer some insights into Ghana’s promising transformative strides and perhaps some lessons, even if tentative for us here in Nigeria.”

TheNBA President said Ghana, currently ranked above Nigeria, has made great strides from which should learn.

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Mahmoud noted that: “For instance Ghana remains ahead of Nigeria on ease of doing business.  Ghana’s global ranking out of 190 Countries Ranked by the World Bank in Ease of Doing Business, Starting a Business and Getting Electricity is 120, 110 and 136 respectively compared to Nigeria’s rankings of 145, 130 and 172 respectively.

“In the field of administration of justice, Ghana has made encouraging progress in the reform of its justice system, in creating functional and more efficient commercial courts, in fighting corruption in the judiciary and generally improving the justice sector.

“Notably, only in July President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo appointed four new justices to the Supreme Court of Ghana among them, a senior private practitioner and an academic in a bold move to and strengthen and bring diversity to the Ghanaian Supreme Court.”

The Nations


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