In this interview with Musa Lar, an APC Stakeholder in Bauchi, he speaks on the recent pronouncement by the Chief Justice of the Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen to sanction judges that delay court cases.
Just few days ago, the CJN made statement over the prolonging of cases in Nigeria’s courts and it is a known fact that case of Comrade Orlando of Bauchi against the Bauchi Governor Mohammed Abubakar is one those cases that has stayed long in the court, even when it is a pre-election matter, what do you have to say about that.
Yes, we don’t have issue with the CJN directly but we have issue with a statement he made over the media and it was also aired by Voice of America Hausa Service, when he was addressing the justices of the lower courts. In his own address he said that the Judiciary in the country has made up their mind to ensure that justice is not delayed at any level because Nigeria’s judiciary seems to be the best, but that he is out to deal with any Judge that delayed any case unnecessarily.
Then after that we now reviewed some of the matters in the Supreme Court and we discovered that cases in the Supreme Court are taking longer time than the ones at the trial court or lower courts.
You remember there is a case of this Jokolo that was published on the Sun newspaper on 28th May 2017, with case number SC 314/2016; this case lasted only for six months in the Federal High Court. We know that Sun newspaper carried this petition on 28th May, 2017 which was written by Mustapha Jokolo former Emir of Gwandu. The issue here is this, on 27th September 2017 the CJN himself, presided over the matter of Emir of Gwandu versus Mustapha Jokolo and he frowned why the case is taking longer time, which it is almost 12 years in the court, from trial court to lower court and to Supreme Court. The CJN however said that this issue of long cases cannot continue and after then he asked the panel to file their brief and he adjourned the case to 6 months, from 27th September 2016 to 4th April 2017 which we feel is uncalled for, this case even contradicts his statement.
Then on the 4th April 2017, another judge who presided over the case and the case was adjourned to 7 months from 4th April 2017 to 13th November 2017 and from then Mustapha Jokolo wrote a petition to the CJN complaining about the unnecessary adjournments. After that petition by Jokolo, a new panel headed by Justice Rhodes Vivour was constituted following Jokolo’s petition but surprisingly again he adjourned the matter again from 13th November 2017 to 28th April 2018, which is five months interval. So with this example and other examples the delay of cases is higher in the Supreme Court than in the lower and trial courts and this is not good for our judiciary system.
So, what are you saying concerning the CJN’s recent statement on the prolonging of cases?
I am of the view that the correction or sanitization the judiciary should start from the Supreme Court so they lead by example. This is what we are crying for.
What do you have to say on the case of Comrade Orlando of Bauchi which is yet to end now, especially to what the CJN stated?
Yes, the case you mentioned has been adjourned unnecessarily even without the matter being taken for about a year and six months and in fact it is getting to six months now. If you look at what is happening in the Supreme Court now, you discover that the delay of Justice is more pronounced in the Supreme Court, so what were now saying is if truly the CJN wants to sanity into the Judiciary he should start from the Supreme Court, let him put eyes on all matters that are before the Supreme Court, he should ensure that justice are dispensed at the right time before he will now bring it down to the lower and trial courts.
Why do you think judges delay cases, are there reasons given for this?
Most at times they don’t give reasons. For instance the case of Comrade Orlando, it has been adjourned for seven times now and this is a pre-election matter. For instance when the CJN presided over the matter on 25th January 2017 he said that will be the last adjourned and that all counsel should fill the motion, but now the case has been adjourned several times. Like the one Justice Mary Odili adjourned the case to 9 months. He should start with Supreme Court and make sure that justice are dispensed as at when due.