Corruption in our judiciary

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i read a piece by on Daily Trust titled “Corrupt Judges: Does our Chief Justice need help?” published on 27th September 2015 which elaborate the extent of corruption in our judiciary and the need for adequate solution in order to address it. Last Monday, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) admonished senior lawyers in the country to stop making “unguarded” utterances about corruption in the judiciary without identifying the corrupt judges. Somehow, the CJN sounded as though he himself does not know his judges that are corrupt. I just hope I misunderstood his Lordship. While waiting for more comments that could illuminate the subject, I reached out to two small pamphlets in my personal library dealing with statements on corruption in the Nigerian judiciary. After reading over some of the statements, I opted to make today’s article a simple literature review of the pamphlets so as to remind us all of some relevant stories most of which are credited to judges themselves. 

In 1993, Justice Bassey Ikpeme of the Abuja high Court ruled in favour of the unregistered Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) that the famous June 12 Presidential election should not hold. The Judge breached the relevant law of the time that court proceedings were not “to affect the date, time or the holding of the election or the performance by the electoral commission of any of its functions.” It remains instructive that the ruling took place at midnight on the eve of the election. Three days later, the then Chief Judge of Abuja, Justice Dahiru Saleh issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the then Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Professor Humphrey Nwosu for non-compliance with the ruling of Justice Ikpeme. Saleh discountenanced the decision of a superior Justice Oguntade then of the Court of Appeal that: “where a court makes an order in contravention of a statutory provision which forbids it from making such order, the order so made is null and void and no appeal need be filed against the order.”

Five years later, when the judiciary had opportunity to determine election petitions in respect of the local government elections of 1998, government was forced to disband the election tribunals because as the then Chief of General Staff, General Oladipo Diya told the nation, “petitions, allegations of bribe taking and even confessional statements by some members of the election tribunals threatened to undermine the credibility of the judicial process.” Justice Kayode Esho a retired Justice of the Supreme Court was probably more apt when he opined that “the election tribunals were turning judges into billionaires.” His learned brother, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa at a point stated on national television that there are dishonest lawyers “who after charging their normal fees, charge extra for the judge. If so, which judges are involved? The initial belief that corruption in the judiciary was limited to the lower courts was dispelled by Justice Samson Uwaifo of the Supreme Court who at his valedictory session, in 2005, revealed that corruption “had gradually crawled to the high courts and would appear to have had a foothold among a noticeable number of judicial officers there.” This seems to explain why the work of the Kayode Esho panel, reviewed by another committee headed by Justice Bolarinwa Babalakin, also a former justice of the Supreme Court, saw to the sack of as many as 28 serving judicial officers.
No one could have felt a greater pain than our current President Muhammadu Buhari when Wikileaks revealed that the court victory secured by his opponent concerning the 2007 election was purchased.  The only stories that came thereafter had to do with numerous ex-parte orders restraining INEC from recognizing some candidates nominated for elections by their political parties in 2011. With more election cases to contend with than the election itself, the then chairman of the commission, Prof Attahiru Jega had to formally draw the CJN’s attention to what he called an “emerging trend in the political process where ex-parte orders are granted at the top of a hat by judges”.  No wonder, a report titled: “Department of State’s Country report on Human Rights practices for 2011”, which was submitted to US Congress by the then Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, said that “Nigerian judges frequently failed to appear for trials, often because they were pursuing other sources of income. This appears to explain why the Court of Appeal in 2012, went to sleep for months till a few hours before the deadline for handling the Adamawa governorship election petition.  Then, on the last day, the court arrived in Yola, sat, wrote and delivered a judgment in a manner akin to how decisions affecting some local communities are made and pronounced by their Igwes in the famous African magic series.
It was thus an interesting valedictory speech one year later, when, a retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Stanley Shenko Alagoa, admitted that some judges collect bribe from politicians and traditional rulers to pervert the course of justice. Alagoa disclosed that politicians often resort to intimidation and harassment in their uncanny bid “to influence judges to depart from their sacred oath of office and the path of honour and rectitude.” His learned colleague Justice Olufunmilayo Adekeye made perhaps the same case which seems to colour the roles of judges in the matter as passive. Interestingly, with all the allegations about politicians attempting to induce judges, we are yet to hear of any judge who ordered the arrest of anyone seeking to offer him bribe, which is itself an offence.
Now that the CJN wants senior lawyers to name corrupt judges so that they can be dealt with by the National Judicial Council, we, ordinary citizens are yet to appreciate how the NJC deals with cases. For instance, who exactly did that body deal with over the squabbles at the very top associated with the Sokoto governorship election petition? A clear answer to this type of question can do two things. First, it can make people have more confidence in the judiciary. Second and more importantly, it can establish that the judiciary, like every human organization has its bad eggs who are not necessarily more than the large number of men and women of proven integrity that should deservedly be honoured all the time.

LSS Election 2015: M.M. Adamu Declaration Speech

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In the past one year, Comrade C.J. David has been governing our dear Law Students’ Society but in few weeks to come, a fresh election for the office of President and other executive offices would be conducted as our constitution demands.
I want to be the recipient of the baton. This is not a decision I take lightly, but one that I arrived at after a careful and persistent consideration as well as the need for a servant leader who places people over politics and service above all else. I took the decision to run for President of our great society in 2015 after a great deal of thought. I consulted widely with my family, friends and close political associates in the faculty and beyond.

I am running for President because I believe I can add value to the governance of a Society I love so much. My love for the Society and it’s people knows no limit. I love the diversity, the can-do spirit, and I believe in what LSS can be. And my passion to serve compels me once again to stand for what is right for all Law students, to make LSS what it can be. I offer myself as a Lawsite who is concerned about the state of the society and ways to make things better for my fellow students.

During the course of my consultation, I met with and heard from many fellow  Law Students across different levels about how we can continue to build the LSS of our dream. They told me about their expectation on how LSS can help in providing Law students with all the requisite information and programs that would make their stay in the faculty worth while.

Leadership to me is about making a difference. The challenges we face going forward are enormous. We all know these challenges because we face them every day in our daily lives as students of the Faculty. I promise you all that we are desirous of making a difference. My earned experience as student who is desirous to make an impact in his immediate constituency, it gives me a unique understanding of the critical issues of our time. I know how student union works. I also know how to attract programs that will add values to all Lawsites. I am ready for the challenge of building the LSS of our dream.

I have an agenda for the next one year to meet the hopes and aspirations of Law Students. If the great Law Students give me the privileged opportunity to be President, I shall implement a pan LSS agenda that offer viable solutions that specially reflect the views and wishes of all Law Students rather than those of special interests. I will focus on initiating programs that will make us better Law students who can compete with our colleagues from other Faculties of Law.

As the President of Law Students’ Society, I won’t kick the can down the road. I will confront every challenge that come our way because I understand the urgent need to give Law Students the great leadership they deserve. Doing all these will not be easy. But I believe it is do able. That is why I have decided to join the race to be the next President. I do here by seek your support to make this dream a reality and I assure you I won’t let you down.

I am ready to take up the unfinished business of building a LSS of our dream and making it greater because “THIS IS A TIME FOR GREATNESS”.

So join me. Together, we can make the new LSS possible. I care!!!

God bless LSS, Faculty of Law and God bless University of Jos.

A sad state of our nation

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The enormously popular talk show, ‘Berekete’ on Wazobia FM, Abuja, told the incredible-yet-true story of a hard-working and respected school teacher somewhere in Plateau State who hanged himself. He hadn’t been paid salary for seven straight months. He came home to find that no-one had eaten and two of the children had medical prescriptions for which there was no money. He sneaked out without talking to anyone. After a long while, news came home that he had strangely been caught with a stolen goat.
On his day in court, the teacher confessed to the offense. The reason he stole, he told the local judge, was that he hadn’t been paid for seven months and when he got home to see what he saw, he just couldn’t stand it. The judge allowed him to go home on bail on self-recognition given, as he said, the good impression the entire village had of the otherwise respected teacher. All were shocked to find his body dangling from a tree the morning after. He couldn’t live with the shame.

This is the sad reality of us as a nation where a father cannot feed and cloth his children, cannot afford to send his children to school, pay their hospital bills and other necessaries. No functional institutions, insurgency in the North-East, ethnic crisis in the North-Central, ravaging poverty in the North-West, kidnapping in the South- East, Oil theft in the South-South, and arm-robbery in the South-west. This is our sad reality as a nation.

I strongly believe for Nigeria to work, Nigerians must have an attitudinal change towards our fatherland. We must have a rethink and national consciousness. It was Nelson  Mandela that said “If God is angry with a people, he gives leadership to the worse of them”. I believe new Nigeria is possible where every Nigerian will be proud to call him/herself a Nigerian. But that new Nigeria can only be possible when we have the collective will to make this change a reality -through seeing ourselves as solution to Nigerian problem or by electing those who are willing, able and desirous to bring the desired change our country needs. WE ARE NOT THERE YET. BUT I BELIEVE WE ARE STILL NOT FAR. MAY GOD BLESS NIGERIA!!!

The way you are

the way you are

One among many things I learnt from Dale Carnegie is that we must learn to appreciate our colleagues, friends and subordinates at work but most particularly to me, we must learn to appreciate and commend our spouses to remind them what they mean to us and how much we care about them.

In his book “How to win friends and influence people”, Carnegie told us a story of a member of one of his classes of a request made by his wife. She and a group of other women were involved in a self-improvement program. She asked her husband to help her by listening six things he believed she could do to help her become a better wife. He reported to the class that: ‘I was surprised by such a request. Frankly, it would have been easy for me to list the six things I would like to change about her – my heavens, she could have listed a thousand things she would like to change about me – but I didn’t. I said to her “Let me think about it and give you an answer in the morning.”

The next morning I got up early and called the florist and had them send six red roses to my wife with a note saying ‘I can’t think of six things I would like to change about you. I love you the way you are.’

‘When I arrived at home that evening, who do you think greeted me at the door: That’s right. My wife! She was almost in tears. Needless to say, I was extremely glad I had not criticized her as she had requested.’

‘The following Sunday, after she had reported the result of her assignment, several women with whom she had been studying came to me and said, “That was the most considerate thing I have ever heard.” It was then I realized the power of appreciation.’

Carnegie has reminded us of the importance of showing to people how we appreciate them for being them. All of us do have our flaws because we are imperfect but what we all need are people that would accept us just the way we are. Just as Maya Angelou opined “I am human and nothing human is alien to me.”

From Carnegie I also learnt that flattery is not always the best thing to do but its most preferable to show appreciation to such people. Forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise’ and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat over a lifetime – repeat them years after you have forgotten.

As long as we live, as long as we continue to exist, every day we strive to be better than we were yesterday. We learn to make improvements in ourselves for the betterment of ourselves, those close to us and the society general in order for us to better in whatever we want to be –to be a better son, husband, and father and in other spheres of lives as well. I do here by recommend the Dale Carnegie pill to all and sundry.

Happy International Youth day

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Happy International youth day. We have a huge task ahead of us to make this world a better place. We must unite to bring the desired change in our society needs.
My mentor Malcolm X said in (1964) that “We live in the time of extremism. They got to be a change. A better world has to be build and for it be build it, it must be with extreme measures and for one will join with anyone. I don’t care who you are and where are from as long as you want to change the miserable condition we find ourselves on this planet”.

What is love?

For all these months…

What is love?

If I cannot stimulate the same feelings in you

What is love?

If instead of around me, another place is better for you

What is love?

If after all this time, you are still not sure about us

What is love?

If there is still mutual distrust between us

What is love?

If I cannot expect the same efforts I’m investing from you as well

What is love?

If you don’t make me feel like I’ve a lady I can call mine and only lady

What is love?

If it’s obvious that I’m the only one doing all the loving

What is love?

If everything I do is to impress and make you happy, but you see the opposite only

What is love?

If you still cannot guaranty me your love

In the midst of my delusions, I still don’t know what love is…

The judiciary’s worrisome burden

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After reading Daily trust’s editorial of Monday 9th march 2015 with the above title, I understood better some of the issues that are bedeviling our judiciary and as an aspiring member of this noble profession,I believe our judicial system is dire need of reforms. We must do our best to sanitize and reform the system for the betterment of the country.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, recently expressed concern that the Supreme Court was burdened with a huge number of cases. He lamented that 5,000 appeals were pending before the apex court; some instituted in 2005.
Speaking at a forum organised by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), the CJN said over 800 cases were filed at the Supreme Court in 2014 and 10 appeals have already been filed this year.
Painting a worrisome picture of our criminal justice system, Justice Mohammed said that 38,000 cases were before federal courts alone. Obviously, the number in state high courts and other courts of records would be much higher.
“The current reality paints a sobering picture. The number of cases pending before courts has reached critical proportions and we must use all appropriate means to stop it from spiralling out of control,” the CJN said.
Some of the cases have been going on for decades, with the litigants nowhere near getting a closure anytime soon; some have died while awaiting resolution. For instance, the Supreme Court gave a ruling  on February 13, 2015, in a case instituted at a lower court in 1984 over a chieftaincy stool in Pankshin local government area of Plateau State, long after all the disputants had died.
The regrettable state of Nigeria’s justice system is a result of decades of neglect by successive administrations to grant financial autonomy to the third arm of government, in spite of the principle of separation of powers enshrined in our constitution.
There is no gainsaying the urgent need to reform the criminal justice system to enhance the rule of law, curb impunity and abuse of human rights. The archaic substantive and procedural criminal laws need to be reviewed and overhauled because as the dictum says, ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’
Justice Mohammed is in a position to fast-track the justice delivery system as his tenure will be defined by what he does in significantly improving the situation.
A starting point would be the setting up of new but effective and reliable Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) courts, like India did when it was faced with an even direr situation between 2001 and 2012, leading to the resolution of over two million cases. Several European countries have embraced the ADR option and freed the judiciaries from the heavy burden.
Mohammed also has to urgently tackle indolence among judges. His predecessor, Justice Mariam Aloma-Muktar, noted in 2013 that some judges did not deliver up to four judgments in a year, and would not start sitting by 9 am. Some even travelled abroad without permission, the retired CJN added. This scourge of indiscipline and slothfulness among judicial has to be arrested hence the need for a periodic appraisal of judges to ensure they are performing.
The rising incidence of corruption among personnel is another issue that has to be dealt with. The system is highly compromised, resulting in judges often granting frivolous injunctions. Judges who have soiled their robes are not fit to be part of the Bench.
Judges and other judicial staff need continuous retraining to handle difficult and complex cases. Provision of infrastructure is also critical to enhance performance. With the advances in information and communication technology, courts worldwide now operate with ease and efficiency to deliver quality rulings on time.
The National Assembly should speed up the passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice bill (2013), which seeks, among other issues, to limit the adjournment of cases to a maximum of five times with not more than 14 days interval, which is pending in the two chambers along with 14 other justice sector reform bills.
Amendment to relevant portions of the Constitution should be done to make some cases, like governorship and legislative elections petitions, terminate at the Court of Appeal. This will lessen the burden of the apex court.
Effective justice administration is key to the growth of democracy and economic development, hence the need to strengthen the system. In collaboration with the bench, the NBA should institute a system to punish lawyers who deliberately frustrate the judiciary; this way the association would be paving way to a faster regime.