Senate confirms Ariwoola, new CJN gets agenda

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The Senate, on Wednesday, confirmed Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

This is just as senior lawyers, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, set the agenda for the new CJN.

The President, Major General Muhmmadu Buhari (retd.), had in July nominated Ariwoola to the Senate for confirmation following the resignation of the former CJN, Justice Mohammed Tanko.

His nomination was confirmed on Wednesday after a screening conducted by the Committee of the Whole.

During the screening, Ariwoola denied any rift between his predecessor and other Justices of the Supreme Court over their leaked memo addressed to the ex-CJN.

He identified some of the challenges facing the judiciary including lack of accommodation for some Justices of the apex court, inadequate funding and inadequate manpower.

He regretted that only 13 justices are currently doing the work meant for 21 justices.

He said, “We are supposed to be 21 justices but we are 13. We just discovered on Monday, when we started sitting, that 12 appeals were listed for justices to deal with.

“So in three days, you can imagine how many appeals we will take. And how do we write these judgments? We need to appoint more justices. As we said, the rules will have to be amended.

“Many cases should not be allowed to come up to the Supreme Court. Many cases should be allowed to stop at the Appeal Court. It is only by constitutional amendment that that can happen.”

CJN gets agenda

In an interview with The PUNCH, a former Deputy Director-General and Head of Campus of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Ernest Ojukwu (SAN), noted that Ariwoola inherited a court that has largely failed in its positive policy-making role.

He said the CJN was inheriting and needed to handle issues of an apex court that is leading in snail-speed justice; massive case congestion; the elevation of technical justice over substantive justice; mass distrust and disrespect of its political judgments; and contradictory judgments.

“The Chief Justice is inheriting a court that has largely failed in its positive policy-making role and more bogged down by somewhat not so progressive decisions. The Chief Justice is inheriting quasi Judiciary agencies like the National Judicial Council and Judicial Service Commission that have woefully failed at giving Nigeria the greater numbers of best, most intelligent and less corrupt judges. The greatest challenge facing our justice administration today is the calibre and ethical standards of our judicial officers, especially at the lower court levels.

“The Chief Justice will be inheriting colleagues at the Supreme Court and across the country who are disillusioned in their jobs and unmotivated by the terrible emoluments being paid to them by a country that is uncaring about  judges’ welfare.

“The Chief Justice will be inheriting a largely executive dependent judiciary where the governors have neglected constitutional provisions, judicial decisions and Executive Order of the President that insists on the financial autonomy of courts. The Chief Justice will be inheriting a legal system that is failing and trust in the administration of justice collapsing,” Ojukwu said.

Also, Prof Sam Erugo (SAN), in a separate interview, urged Ariwoola, to deploy his wealth of experience to impact positively on the judiciary.

“Given the background of his appointment and confirmation, following some institutional challenges, we expect he will immediately address those problems which his colleagues had identified.

“There is no doubt that he will bring positive changes to the Supreme Court,” Erugo stated.


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