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Saturday, 7 July 2018

How Nigeria’s problems can be solved – CJN

How Nigeria’s problems can be solved – CJN

Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onoghen, has stated that all the problems of the country can be solved through strict adherence to the rule of law.

He noted that if the country and Nigerians could consistently respect the rule of law for four years, the building blocks of development would be firmly in place.

The CJN stated these on Friday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, while inaugurating the National Industrial Court, Port Harcourt Division’s building and the remodelled Court of Appeal building, embarked upon by the Rivers government, under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike.

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Onoghen, while inaugurating the National Industrial Court complex, said: “I believe that the solutions to our numerous problems lie in the adherence to the principles of the rule of law. If we do that for four years consistently, you will see that everything will fall back into place.

“The constitution provides for each and everyone of us. It has given us designated and special functions. If we adhere to these functions and discharge them to the satisfaction of our conscience, there will be development.”

The CJN also stated that in adhering to the rule of law, people would realise that there were societal taboos.

He said: “For instance, locking up the courts. How can you in a democratic society think of locking up the courts? How can you say that you should deprive the judiciary of its funds, for instance?”

Onoghen charged Nigerian judges to be fair, firm and courageous in the discharge of their functions.

He said: “You know that a man of integrity cannot be intimidated. You do not expect a man with integrity to be subservient. Sacrifices must be made, if we are to come out of the woods.”

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The CJN also described as a welcome development, the construction of the National Industrial Court in Port Harcourt by the Rivers government, while urging other state governors to emulate Wike.

He said: “All other state executives should learn from what is happening in Rivers State.”

Rivers governor, in his remarks at the inauguration of the National Industrial Court, stated that nothing could be more important to the country than for the nation to secure the independence of the judiciary and ensure that it was no longer threatened by political and other interests.

Wike said: “This is possible if our judges can stand firm on the constitution under any circumstances and act consistently as morally autonomous agents with unshakable belief in the rule of law, human rights and the shared values of our democracy.

“I declare so because all through history, judicial independence is fought and won by the courage, commitment and vigilance of judges, who would yield to nothing in defence of the constitution and the rule of law.

“The challenge is for the Bench and the Bar to resolve to stand firm against all forms of pressures, blatant or subtle, physical or venal, that interfere with, impair or impugn the character and content of judicial decisions.”

Rivers governor also noted that until Nigerian judges were able to do justice in the face of threats, apply the law in the face of opposition from the government, resist peer pressures and be seen to be courageous, just and fair, only then could the nation’s judiciary be independent and Nigeria respected among nations.

He said: “While I congratulate the CJN on the ongoing reforms to strengthen our judiciary, I wish to remind you with respect, that on your shoulders rest the responsibility, hopes and expectations of a truly independent, impartial and proactive judiciary. A judiciary that can do justice, even though heaven may fall.”

Wike, on the National Industrial Court constructed by his administration, he stressed that his administration was proud to be contributing to the dispensation of justice and making Rivers state the judicial hub of the region.

He said: “Against this background, permit me to further reiterate the point that our decision to spend hundreds of millions of naira in building a federal court house is not because we have so much money to throw after the responsibility of the Federal Government.

“The court system, whether Federal or State, serves the same purpose and Rivers people are the primary beneficiaries of the services rendered by these courts, irrespective of ownership.”

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN), in a goodwill message, hailed the Rivers governor for his contributions to the dispensation of justice.

President of National Industrial Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, in his remarks, pointed out that it was the first time such a developmental gesture would be coming from a state government.

Rivers Chief Judge, Justice Adama Iyayi-Laminkara and the state’s Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice, Emmanuel Aguma (SAN), who was represented by the Rivers Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, lauded the investments of Wike in the development of the justice sector.

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, at the inauguration of the remodelled Court of Appeal building, expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done at the facility.

Bulkachuwa noted that though she was initially skeptical about the proposal to remodel the Appeal Court by Rivers governor, because at the time, no such remodelling had been undertaken by a state government, but was convinced by the fact that Wike intervened in other federal courts and establishments in the state.

Wike, in his remarks, pointed out that his administration resolved to remodel the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt because it had degenerated to an embarrassing level.

He said: “We are happy to have also delivered what is arguably, the best and most functional Court of Appeal complex, outside the headquarters building in Abuja, to the glory of God and for the progress of our state and the nation.

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“With this court house delivered, we are the only state government in our country that has directly intervened and provided the most modern court houses for all existing federal courts in the state, namely: the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal.”

The CJN stated every right-thinking person would appreciate efforts put in place to make the judiciary function optimally.

Onoghen called for financial autonomy of state judiciary across the country, saying that a judiciary driven by integrity could not be timid.

The Special Adviser to Rivers governor on Special Projects, Alabo George Kerley, stressed that the courtrooms, offices and facilities were remodelled in a way that would promote security and performance.

A former NBA President, Okey Wali (SAN), in his goodwill message, stated that Wike had lived up to the expectations of the people as a member of the Body of Benchers.

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