The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) has accused the Court of Appeal of betraying the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen by allegedly refusing to deliver a ruling in his case when necessary.
It said the Judiciary was unwilling to exert its independence, adding that only a few judges had exhibited boldness in deciding cases according to the law.
Chris Uche (SAN) aired the group’s view while speaking in Abuja on Monday at a valedictory court session in honour of the late former Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati.
Uche, who represented BOSAN Chairman, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), was of the view that the “judiciary became a victim of its silence”.
He said: “The Court of Appeal, we recall, refused to deliver its ruling in the matter for over three months.”
Recalling the circumstance under which Justice Onnoghen exited the Supreme Court bench, and the raids on judges houses by security agents, Uche argued that the Judiciary was gradually being cowed.
“Having got away successfully with that, they were emboldened to attempt the unthinkable, and that is what is known today as the Onnoghen saga.
“There have been systematic efforts to erode the independence of the judiciary by way of intimidation, coercion, arm-twisting, divide-and-rule tactics and outright harassment.”
Uche noted that in most cases involving the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), “very few judges are bold enough to decide (matters) according to the law because of the entitlement mentality of the prosecuting agencies.”
He warned the Judiciary about impending pressure from politicians and other political actors as the next election season draws close.
“The judiciary must assert itself, and indeed liberate itself through the protection of its decisional independence.”
Uche described the late Kafarati as a “courteous judge,” who “had a reputation for listening quietly” to lawyers as they canvass argument.
“It was only in his rulings and judgments that you will see the courage, wisdom and experience of the late jurist,” Uche added.
Kafarati’s successor and incumbent Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, said Kafarati “introduced innovations toward speedy and effectual adjudication of causes and matters.”
Justice Tsoho said: “Justice Kafarati was a revered gentleman, a great family man; a humane, articulate, peaceful and quiet by nature.
“By his demise, death has dealt unfairly with our beloved Justice Abdu-Kafarati.”
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), represented by the acting Director of Civil Appeals at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Tijjani Gazali (SAN), hailed the late jurist for his “humility, hard work and excellence.”