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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Onnoghen: I didn’t call for establishment of special courts

Onnoghen: I didn’t call for establishment of special courts

Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), says he did not advocate the establishment of special courts.

Onnoghen said this in a statement issued on his behalf by Awassam Bassey, his media aide.

He said he was quoted out of context when he spoke with state house correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The exact words of the Hon. CJN, during his interaction with state house correspondents at the presidential villa, were as follows,” the statement read.

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“It is the executive that has the prerogative in conjunction with the legislature to set up courts, including the special courts, under our constitution. It is not the duty of the judiciary nor that of the chief justice of Nigeria.

If a special court or any court for that matter, the powers that decide to establish them, the judiciary will run it by providing the manpower.

“This answer was to a question from one of the correspondents who wanted to know when special courts would be established to try corruption cases.

“The Hon. CJN then proceeded to elaborate on the efforts of the judiciary, which he heads, in speedy trial of corruption cases in the following words:

“Under the circumstances, I must admit that so far, so good. It is in order to make you know the workings of the system that I set up the COTRIMCO (Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee). All along, everybody is passing the buck right, left and centre.

The prosecutor is saying ‘no, it is not our responsibility; we are not the cause of the delay’. The investigator is saying, ‘I am not the cause’. The judge will say, ‘I am not the cause.

“So, the people must know who is actually causing the delay. That is why I set up the committee; and it is made up of the defence counsel, the prosecutor and the hudiciary under the NJC’.”

Onnoghen’s spokesman added that the power to establish any court under the constitution lies with the executive and legislative arms of government and not with the CJN or the judiciary.

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