Godwin Tsa, Abuja
President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government of undermining the independence of the judiciary.
Usoro, said this in his speech at the 2019 judicial year opening ceremony in Abuja. Usoro said the success of a democracy was largely dependent on a free judiciary and that denigrating the judicial sector was an invitation to anarchy.
The MBA president alleged that the executive arm of government and its agencies were plotting to “tele-guide the activities and decisions of the courts”.
Usoro said the mental and physical disposition of judges was instrumental to the attainment of justice in any society, but said the independence of the mind and thoughts of judges in the determination of matters before the courts is under severe attack.
He said the executive arm of government and its agencies are increasingly and unceasingly critical of the judiciary and its decisions “particularly in matters that the government and its agencies may be interested in.”
“It is not unusual these days to hear high officials of government talk down the judiciary and ridiculously and rather ill-advisedly dump all the ills of society on the judiciary,” said Usoro.
“Decisions by Your Lordships are sometimes brazenly denigrated and attributed to ulterior and ill motives – and these on social and traditional media platforms
“Veiled and sometimes open and, in all cases, audacious attempts are made to tele-guide and program the decisions of courts.
“These are very dangerous practices that destroy the independence of the judiciary, and by extension the rule of law, and indeed the fabric of our society,”the NBA president said.
He said Nigeria can only survive with independent-minded judges who are empowered to dispense justice to all manner of men, including government departments, without fear or favor.
“We can only survive as a nation if the independence and vibrancy of the judiciary, particularly, the non-interference with the Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Mohammed has called on Justices of the Federal High Court to double their efforts and be transparent in the discharge of their judicial functions.
The CJN, who spoke, yesterday, at the 35th Annual Conference of the Judges of the Federal High Court, noted that the society and litigants expect more from judges because of the volume of cases in their dockets.
The CJN who was represented by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu of the Court of Appeal, reiterated the need for judges to be transparent,live above board and be guided by their oath of office.
Meanwhile, the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho has called on judges and staff of the court to put in more efforts to reduce the burden that the shortfall of staff causes the court, especially in speedy adjudication of cases. He equally demanded that new judges be appointed to help achieve quick dispensation of cases.