He Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, on Tuesday, vowed that the judiciary under his watch would not cower into “silence.”
Ariwoola, who took office last June, lamented that “the rule of law has been attacked from all sides in this country, especially by those who are supposed to zealously defend and protect it.”
The CJN, which was represented by Supreme Court Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, spoke at the state attorneys general conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
“It is no longer news that our court officials and even court facilities have been attacked, harassed, harassed, and desecrated in various ways across the country.
“The judiciary under my watch will not remain on the sidelines and will see how the temple of Justice and the ministers of Justice are flagrantly punished and silenced,” said the CJN.
The judiciary has witnessed unprecedented attacks under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
These began with the historic nightly raid on judges’ houses in Abuja and other parts of the country by State Security Service (SSS) agents in 2016 over corruption allegations that collapsed in court.
The administration, through an unconstitutional method, removed then-CJN Walter Onnoghen from office in 2019, a move widely seen as taken to intimidate the judiciary in the run-up to the 2019 election.
Known for its low regard for judicial process, the Buhari government ignored repeated court orders for the release of Omoyele Sowore, a pro-democracy activist and editor of the Sahara Reporters who was detained for calling for Revolution Now worldwide. country against bad government in 2019.
On December 6, 2019, PREMIUM TIMES reported that armed SSS officers disrupted ongoing proceedings at the Abuja Federal High Court in an attempt to re-arrest Mr. Sowore, a presidential candidate in the 2019 and 2023 elections, after before the court ordered his release.
When SSS officers invaded the courtroom, the judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, abruptly suspended the day’s proceedings while Mr. Sowore was pinned to the ground.
The action was widely described as disrespectful to the court.
After invading court premises, armed SSS officers re-arrest Sowore
In an apparent reference to various attacks on judges and courts, Ariwoola warned: “No one in this country is allowed, under any pretext, to take the law into their own hands simply because they have the guns to bear.”
He urged justice commissioners not to “let us down (the judiciary).”
Mr. Ariwoola added that judges should not be intimidated and that court chiefs should be adequately funded by state governors.
The CJN observed that “so many things have gone wrong in the criminal justice chain.” He called for concerted efforts to address them.
AGF requests support from state governments to fight corruption
Speaking at the event, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, called for the collaboration of state governments with the federal government to combat corruption.
He said the essence of the conference was to brainstorm how leading state judicial officials can partner with the federal government to address socio-legal issues in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that the support of states is required for effective implementation and to increase the pace of the war against corruption,” he said.
The Minister of Justice listed other areas of collaboration such as “domestication or review and application of legislation such as the Criminal Justice Administration Law, the Children’s Rights Law, among others.”
He added that the fight against insecurity should not remain in the hands of the central government.
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Speaking on the theme of the conference, ‘Improving synergy between the federal and state governments in the administration of justice in Nigeria’, the AGF said that state attorneys general should be guided by the law in carrying out their duties.
The event was attended by attorneys general from across the country and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Yakubu Maikyau, a Senior Attorney for Nigeria (SAN).
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