From: Romanus Okoye
Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Chief Olisa Agbakoba and Chief Mike
Ozekhome, have applauded the inauguration of a 13-man steering
committee on judiciary reform by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice
Walter Onnoghen, describing the development as ‘a step in the right
The committee was inaugurated last Friday.
While speaking with Daily Sun in an interview, Agbakoba, a former
President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) said, “the main thing is to
restore public confidence and overhaul the operating model of the
court to achieve utmost speed.”
On his part, while referring to the committee’s terms of reference,
Constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Ozekhome, said, “The
terms are well thought out, very incisive, proactive and deliberate.”
He further stated that “The awful Condition of Service of serving
judicial officers is an eye sore and a ready recipe for corruption,
especially monetary corruption. It will take an angel to resist
monetary bribe when confronted with desperate politicians under the
present hardship suffered by judges.”
Ozekhome said that strengthening the National Judicial Institute is a
sine qua non in building a vibrant intellectual basis for judges and
other judicial officers; adding that the Bailiff/Sheriff section which
has always been lousy needs total overhauling.
“It is hoped this panel will redress this anomaly that has always
militated against the smooth administration of justice,” he said.
The 13-man committee headed by the Secretary of the National Judicial
Service Commission, Mrs. Bilkisu Bashir and an Assistant Director of
Administration in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Mr. Royal Sunday
Issah, will serve as the Secretary of the committee was tasked “to
coordinate a comprehensive reform of the country’s judiciary”.
“Other members of the 13-member committee include Directors of
Administration from the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the
Supreme Court of Nigeria, the National Judicial Council, Federal High
Court, Court of Appeal, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of
Appeal, Federal Capital Territory High Court, National Industrial
Court and the President of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria,” the
Justice Onnoghen mandated the committee to call for memoranda from
former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Presidents of the Court of Appeal,
Chief Registrars, “and other stakeholders on the way forward”. The CJN
was quoted to have said while inaugurating the committee in
Abuja on Friday that there was a need for a holistic review of the
operations of the nation’s judiciary.
The CJN observed that the judiciary had been stagnated for years while
other arms of government continue to undergo reforms. “You will agree with me that over time, the Judiciary, due to its conservative nature, had stagnated in its operations while the other arms of government have continued to undergo reforms. “It is now more urgent than ever to undertake a holistic reform of the Judiciary”.
The committee’s terms of reference include “To carry out a
comprehensive analysis of the administrative structure and operations
of the three arms of the Government with a view to exploring areas of
comparative advantage and mutual cooperation.
“To undertake a comprehensive review of the operations and condition
of service of the Nigeria Judiciary with a view to enhancing general
efficiency and effectiveness.
“To recommend long and short-term measures that would help in the
general improvement of the welfare/condition of service of both
Judicial and non-Judicial Officers
“To call for memoranda from former CJNs, PCAs, CRs, and other
stakeholders on the way forward.
“To create a professional/management structure for the administration
of the Judiciary with a “Head” well versed in Judicial
“To create a professional Bailiffs and Sheriffs’/Judiciary Police Department.
“To propose a pooling policy and recommend a rule to empower the
Federal Judicial Service Commission to commence the operation of a
pooling system of Senior Officers within the Judiciary.
“To propose and recommend to the National Judicial Institute the
review of its training syllabus to include short term courses for
certification of Judiciary Personnel with a view of enhancing their
“To make any other recommendations that will help in repositioning the
Judiciary for optimal performance.”
The chairman of the committee, Mrs. Bilkisu Bashir, was said to have
pledged that the committee would leave no stone unturned to ensure
that its report “will make the country’s judiciary one of the best in