HomeLegal LuminaryNational Industrial Court Honorable Justice Ogbuanya’s Excellent Performance

National Industrial Court Honorable Justice Ogbuanya’s Excellent Performance

Date:

By Adebayo Adekola

His Lordship was appointed as a Judge of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in July 2017. I have read several judgments of the Honourable Justice. His Lordship’s industry and knowledge of the subject matter in each case are easy to perceive. His reasoning is hard to fault.

In the last few years, the Nigerian judiciary has earned a bad reputation. The public equally widely holds this perception. Even within the judiciary, there is a great distrust. There is a lack of faith in the judiciary among the citizens. Due to this, I suppose it is only natural for foreigners and foreign governments to see the Nigerian judiciary in a bad light. The various events leading to this were well publicized and the subject of fierce public debate in the media.

There is no substitute for some basic moral values expected from every human. However, this may be the first apprehension of some challenges faced by the judiciary, particularly the judges. And these can be verified. Some judges do not have a conducive office or courtroom. They lack supporting staff and adequate resources to ease their work. There is a shortage of judges. Their workload is overbearing. More than twice, I had appeared before a judge sitting at two different locations between 9am and 6pm and others in two different locations within a week.

Imagine a High Court judge presiding over cases in Ibadan from 9am to 1pm and in Oyo town or Isheyin from 1pm on the same day, and a National Industrial Court or Federal High Court judge sitting for two days in Lagos State and the other days at maybe Port Harcourt. Most judges are driven in official cars that are already long overdue to be replaced.

Regardless, expectations are high for the judiciary and judicial officers. Hence, I believe any positive news about the Nigerian judiciary must be widely circulated and well-celebrated. It would be good for the public’s perception of the Nigerian judiciary. The Nigerian judiciary has been wanting in this regard.

Ordinarily, the news media are very good at pushing and shoving bad news at their audience. Of course, one cannot dictate to them what news to project or talk about. The general public seems to have a rather shocking preference for bad or unpleasant news. Hence, people and institutions try as much as possible to get the good news out there by all means possible. Therefore, having the news of the commendation of the National Industrial Court Judge, Justice Ogbuanya, for excellent performance on the court’s website is not adequate.

In a news release shared on Monday, December 18, 2023, on the National Industrial Court portal, the National Judicial Council was said to have commended National Industrial Court Judge, Justice Ogbuanya, for his excellent performance. The Judges’ Performance Evaluation Committee of the National Judicial Council, under the Chairmanship of HRH Hon Justice Bage Muhammed 1, commended the Honourable Justice Ogbuanya for his excellent performance in the 2nd Quarter 2022 assessment of the return of cases by judges of superior courts of record in Nigeria.

In the commendation letter dated November 28, 2023, the honourable justice performed excellently well by delivering 28 judgments during the said quarter. Superior courts of record include the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court of Appeal, the National Industrial Court, the Federal High Court, the High Court of a State, and others referred to as such in the Nigerian Constitution.

A judge of a superior court of record, in addition to other assignments, has about one hundred cases assigned to him. He may attend to thirty cases in a day. A case usually has several documents with many pages of facts presented by the parties to the case and a final address containing legal arguments in support of the facts presented. A judge carefully reads every fact and legal argument and presents his well-thought-out decision as a judgment. A case, with the due diligence of the judge and parties, can start and end within four months.

Hon. Justice Nelson Chukwudi Stevens Ogbuanya was my lecturer at the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School. His class is always interactive, and his lectures are very easy to understand. I love to have close interactions with my lecturers and anyone who impacts my life positively. At least, to clear any self-induced fears and notions I may have of them from afar. It takes Justice Ogbuanya no effort at all to bowl along on everything at a brisk pace.

His Lordship was appointed as a Judge of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in July 2017. I have read several judgments of the Honourable Justice. His Lordship’s industry and knowledge of the subject matter in each case are easy to perceive. His reasoning is hard to fault.

For instance, in the case of Mrs. Sharon Philip vs. Notore Chemical Industries Limited — NICN/YEN/56/2015, besides the fact that parties have formulated issues for the court’s consideration, his Lordship observed the confusing submissions of both parties’ counsel regarding the legal mode of exit of the claimant from her said employment and that resolving the substantive legal issues for determination would necessitate a preliminary resolution of a threshold issue as to: what is the mode of exit of the claimant from the employment of the defendant?

Also, his Lordship’s quick and sound judgments are in line with the maxim ‘’justice delayed is justice denied’’. If legal redress for an injured party is available but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no remedy at all.

In the future, any news that would put the image of the Nigerian judiciary in a good light should not be limited to a very few. Such news should be well publicized. The judiciary and the judge in this case should be well celebrated. If the public and news media are well prepared to publicize the bad news, the judiciary should not be shy about giving its good news the same without offending the ethos of the profession. Perhaps make such good news a subject of fierce public debate if necessary.

This would project the judiciary in a good light and help counter the negative image the judiciary already has. This would also encourage the judge and others.

Congratulations to Hon. Justice Nelson Chukwudi Stevens Ogbuanya and the institution he represents, the Nigerian Judiciary.


Adebayo is a writer, political analyst and lawyer with interest in probate, labour, dispute resolution, family, corporate, debt recovery, & real estate. +2348165299774

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