Law News
CJN Has Become Over-bearing, Says Ex-NBA President
Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, Chief Justice of Nigeria

Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, Chief Justice of Nigeria

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Joseph Daudu (SAN), at the weekend accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mukhtar, of treating the Nigerian judicial officers like kindergarten children.

Daudu, also the Co-ordinator of the Rule of Law and Development Foundation, who spoke in Abuja, said his organisation would not hesitate to file an action to stop the CJN from treating judges as kindergarten children if the trend continued.

He cited the issuance of query by the CJN to heads of courts, justices of the Court of Appeal and state High Court justices because they were sighted at conferences in which the CJN was attending.

He said: “It must be stated that the CJN has no power to initiate disciplinary action except in accordance with the code of conduct and rules for the discipline of judicial officers, which stipulates that such process cannot commence without a petition.

“Where the CJN issues a query in the circumstances referred to above, it is a needless dent on the record of the officer.

“The powers of the NJC are set out in item 21 of the third schedule to the 1999 Constitution and none of the items therein vest the CJN with powers to interfere in the administration of any court in Nigeria apart from the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”

Daudu said the CJN had been too involved in the administrative duties of other courts in the country.

He said though his foundation agreed that there should be discipline in the system as it related to the movement of judicial officers such discipline must not be at the expense of judicial officers’ rule of law and independence of the judiciary.

Judges, he said, should not be subjected to witch-hunt.

The former NBA president said: “It is indeed a matter of great shock and surprise that some heads of courts and indeed other courts have been seeking permission from the Office of the CJN before travelling.

“The foundation is of the considered view that the practice or convention that obtained during the excellent tenure of his lordship, the Hon. Muhammadu Uwais as the CJN, was that heads of courts merely notified the office of the CJN as the Chairman of the NJC remains the best method of monitoring the movement of judicial officers.”

“To operate in the current manner is to reduce Nigerian judicial officers to kindergarten children under the supervision of an overbearing headmaster.

“If this approach is left unchecked, it might lead us to the situation where in the not too distant past, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria in the exaggerated belief in the power of his office sought to ‘promote’ the then President of the Appeal Court to the Supreme Court as a way of removing him from office.”

Daudu also spoke on the seizure of $9.3 million and $5.7million by the South African authorities.
He called on President Goodluck Jonathan to salvage the image of the nation.

He said the foundation was of the view that the entire transaction was irregular and a breach of the rule of law.

He noted that “terrorism is a global scourge and there was no need for the country’s intelligence machinery to engage in what is clearly a breach of international money laundering laws.

“The federal government is not to include itself in deals such as this, when external intelligence agencies deal in cash for arms it is for illegitimate and covert activities, which their governments do not wish to be associated with.”

He described the transactions as one of those instances where government personnel needlessly dragged the nation’s name in the mud.

He also pleaded for the release of the immediate past president of NBA, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN), who was  abducted on October 11  by yet to be identified persons in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He said: “This should sound the alarm bells for all those in authority, who wring their hands helplessly when such events occur. The provision of law and order and the protection of her citizens must always remain the prime focus of government.
“We regret to say that Nigerians are short changed in that regard.”
In addition, he accused the judiciary of self-inflicted injuries; as a result of harbouring certain unconstitutional actions which if left unchecked, will destroy the entire foundation on which the independence of the judiciary is erected.

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