Kano emirate tussle: Conflicting courtroom orders mirror judicial decay – Prof. Olawuyi

<!– tmc_ads_send({ “data-tmc-application”: “240527QJBmDrni”, “data-tmc-seat”: “240527FGR657jX” }) –>

In this interview, Prof. Damilola Olawuyi (SAN) speaks to ONOZURE DANIA on the present technique of re-appointing judges and conflicting courtroom orders over the Emir stool in Kano, amongst others

Following the reinstatement of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi because the sixteenth Emir of Kano on May 24, 2024, there was unrest and protests. A Kano State High Court on Monday issued an interim injunction restraining Aminu Ado Bayero and 4 different dethroned emirs from parading themselves as emirs pending the listening to and willpower of the movement on discover. What are your feedback on this example?

The occasions in Kano State are sadly one other unhappy reflection of the extent of decay and decay in our judicial system. We have just one judiciary in Nigeria and judges in any respect ranges are anticipated to operate as a part of one coherent and harmonious system. Instead, contradictory and conflicting courtroom orders are flying all over, with allegations {that a} Federal High Court Judge is giving orders from exterior of the nation just about. This by itself raises elementary questions because the NJC Guidelines for Virtual Court Proceedings (2020) mandate that although digital hearings are permitted in sure circumstances, reminiscent of pressing issues, interlocutory functions, pre-trial conferences and easy civil circumstances, the choose, legal professionals and events concerned within the matter have to be inside Nigeria’s borders to take part in digital courtroom proceedings.

An order made just about from exterior of the nation is subsequently invalid and needs to be simply put aside as having no impact by any means. Secondly, even a first-year regulation pupil will let you know categorically that the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate on state conventional and chieftaincy issues. To lack jurisdiction on a matter equally implies that an interim order granted by a choose, realizing that they lack jurisdiction to listen to the matter, will for my part be tantamount to judicial malpractice and abuse of authority and courtroom course of. Of course, there have been arguments that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction over human rights issues and that human rights questions have been raised on this case. However, it’s crystal clear that the subject material and most important gist of the case is the Kano State Emirates Council (Repeal) Law 2024, and never elementary rights. There are human rights points in just about all circumstances, together with labour and election issues. Shall we then go to the Federal High Court for election issues beneath the guise of elementary human rights? Or we could erode the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court on the idea of imposing elementary rights? The Supreme Court has clarified the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in a number of circumstances and has held {that a} courtroom can’t, both by mistake or misunderstanding, confer itself with statutory jurisdiction that it doesn’t have.

Wanton disregard for precedents of the Supreme Court in addition to the NJC Guidelines for Virtual Court Proceedings by a judicial officer are gross skilled misconducts that warrant in-depth analysis and assessment. If the judiciary can’t respect its personal guidelines and judgments, then we’re set for an period of judicial rascality and lawlessness which is able to considerably erode confidence within the integrity and sanctity of the judiciary.

Considering the unrest the reinstatement of Sanusi and the following courtroom injunctions have dropped at Kano State, what position ought to the judiciary play in managing and resolving such crises?

The means ahead is for the NJC to urgently step in to assessment the position of the judiciary within the ongoing deadlock in Kano and the place judicial misconduct is discovered, there’s a have to impose far-reaching sanctions on erring judges to be able to set the file straight, right moral missteps and stop future recurrence. There can also be a have to speed up and make investments extra in judicial schooling, moral coaching and mentoring programmes that can higher equip judges to take care of the dignity of their workplace and to keep away from each impropriety and the looks of impropriety always within the train of their capabilities.

Is it constitutional for a serving High Court Judge, reminiscent of Justice Mandy Bassi of the Plateau State High Court, to be re-appointed to a different High Court (such because the Federal Capital Territory High Court) with out first relinquishing her present place?

Appointing a sitting choose of a state excessive courtroom to the FCT High Court raises a number of constitutional and transparency questions. First, it’s not impracticable for a choose to carry two judicial positions on the similar time. Such a state of affairs is solely unconstitutional and can quantity to a complete disregard of the procedural guidelines of the Judicial Service Commission. Second, it has to do with transparency questions. Did the candidate make a full disclosure of her present appointment in the course of the utility course of? Is there a written endeavor by the candidate to relinquish her present place within the Plateau State Judiciary upon the affirmation of her appointment on the FCT High Court?  This ought to have been transparently and clearly communicated by the National Judicial Council as a part of the vetting course of. For instance, the appointment may have been communicated as a conditional appointment topic to resigning from the present place in Plateau State and such conditional appointment phrases may have been revealed extensively, together with on the NJC web site. The lack of such clear and detailed disclosure is an unlucky oversight by the NJC that can additional irritate the waning public confidence within the meritocracy of judicial appointments in Nigeria. I do hope the state of affairs could be clarified as quickly as attainable by way of efficient communication that units the file straight.

What are your ideas on the present technique of appointing judges, notably when it includes members of the family of high-ranking judicial officers and do you consider this apply undermines public confidence within the judiciary?

In latest occasions there have been many public considerations about potential battle of curiosity and nepotism in judicial appointments and a few of these considerations once more emanate from the dearth of clear and clear communication on the measures taken by the NJC to deal with such potential conflicts of curiosity. For instance, there may be nothing that stops any Nigerian from aspiring to a judicial place and this consists of the youngsters and spouses of sitting judges and political workplace holders. It is a elementary human proper of Juges’ kinfolk to aspire to any place and obtain success in it, and your father or mother’s occupation can’t undermine your human rights. What nonetheless has by no means been clear are the safeguards put in place by the NJC to keep away from battle of curiosity when deciding on functions by their kinfolk. All members of the NJC took a constitutional oath of workplace to keep away from battle of curiosity within the discharge of their tasks. A state of affairs whereby the chairman or members of the NJC are on a panel to resolve on their very own kinfolk is subsequently not solely unconstitutional but additionally towards the ethos of transparency and accountability enshrined within the National Judicial Policy.

Related News

The international greatest apply in different jurisdictions is for members of the judicial fee to declare such potential conflicts of curiosity and abstain from decision-making on such recordsdata. Did members of the NJC recuse themselves from the assessment and decision-making on their very own kinfolk? If so, has this been transparently communicated to the general public?  The lack of such clear and detailed disclosure is one other unlucky oversight by the NJC that can solely additional irritate the waning public confidence within the meritocracy of judicial appointments in Nigeria. The Nigerian public has a constitutional proper to data which needs to be revered by all arms of presidency, notably the judiciary. As the age-long aphorism goes, justice should not solely be finished but it surely have to be seen to have been finished always.

As an impartial knowledgeable who served on the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, you’ve got persistently advocated elevated funding for the judiciary in keeping with worldwide greatest practices. What different reforms do you consider are most crucial for the Nigerian judiciary to boost its effectiveness and credibility within the twenty first century?

Several of the challenges dealing with the effectiveness of the Nigerian judiciary could be broadly categorised into three: funding, capability and integrity. As you rightly famous, I’ve been probably the most vociferous advocates for elevated funding for the judiciary to allow it to correctly carry out its capabilities. We have just lately seen excellent news on this regard with the elevated budgetary allocation to the judiciary this 12 months. In truth, it is without doubt one of the highest to this point in latest historical past.

We have additionally seen a latest enhance within the remuneration and advantages of judicial officers; all aimed toward boosting morale and bettering their working circumstances. We want extra of such sustained funding within the judiciary, particularly within the space of infrastructure and know-how. The deplorable state of courtrooms throughout Nigeria, with little or no entry to trendy applied sciences wanted for the conduct of authorized enterprise, have to be addressed as a matter of precedence to be able to improve the transparency of judicial proceedings.  Furthermore, enhancing the integrity of the judicial system may even require selling moral coaching and mentorship for all judicial officers, together with on how one can keep away from battle of curiosity within the discharge of their judicial capabilities. There is very the necessity for capability improvement of judges by way of publicity to overseas greatest practices, developmental coaching, and seminars, particularly in area of interest areas of regulation reminiscent of worldwide regulation,  vitality, setting, local weather change, and know-how regulation amongst others.

The NJC just lately issued warning letters to Justices Inyang Ekwo, G. B. Brikins-Okolosi, and Amina Shehu for gross skilled misconduct, barring them from elevation to a better bench for 2 and three years, respectively. Do you assume this punishment is adequate to discourage different judges from related misconduct?

It is a welcome improvement for the NJC to problem disciplinary sanctions in circumstances of misconduct by judicial officers. International regulation requires that judicial sanctions needs to be as beforehand established within the National Judicial Policy and that their imposition needs to be topic to the precept of proportionality. So in figuring out the suitable actions, the NJC would usually consider the seriousness of the conduct, whether or not the concerned choose is a first-time offender or if there’s a sample of impropriety, and in addition which punishment will probably be proportional to the gravity of the transgression. For instance, removing from the workplace is usually reserved for probably the most critical circumstances of misconduct or in circumstances of repetition.  I consider that the difficulty of proportionality would have performed a key position within the minds of the NJC within the degree of sanctions imposed on these judges and I believe the mere undeniable fact that they’ve been disciplined will ship a powerful message to different judicial officers. It is important for the press and different stakeholders to proceed to observe and report on the conduct of judges to be able to maintain them accountable and to fish out the few dangerous eggs and offenders that give the judiciary a foul identify.

How can the judiciary keep its independence within the face of political and household influences, particularly when high-profile appointments are concerned?

Despite the commendable reforms over the previous couple of years to advance transparency and accountability within the judiciary, much more nonetheless needs to be finished to deal with the overwhelmingly unfavorable notion that flows from the dearth of clear communication and disclosure by the NJC, particularly in relation to the appointment course of.

The Judicial Appointment Policy, which is a part of the National Judicial Policy, makes it clear that “every aspect of the judicial appointment process should be such as to command public respect and confidence.” However, our present actuality is sadly removed from this. In different jurisdictions reminiscent of Canada and the United States, the method of appointing judges is just not shrouded in secrecy. Even in close by Kenya, once they just lately appointed judges, your entire interview course of was broadcast on reside tv and the web site of the Kenya Judicial Service Commission, and this included the interview technique of the Chief Justice of Kenya.

The National Judicial Policy 2016 and the National Policy on Justice 2017, together with its 2024 draft, emphasise a clear, merit-based judicial appointment course of. Do you consider these ideas are mirrored within the latest appointments of judges?

The Nigerian judiciary might want to quickly leverage know-how and trendy communication instruments to spice up public understanding and confidence within the judicial appointment processes. Technology makes it attainable for the NJC to make use of on-line and social media platforms for the general public to observe your entire utility, assessment and interview technique of judges to be able to show adherence to due course of. Nigeria wants an agile, technology-driven and trendy judiciary that’s match for the present century. It is just when we now have this that we are able to reside as much as the identify of being giants of Africa. It is an aberration for the general public not to have the ability to freely entry details about the judicial appointment processes and the {qualifications} and profiles of potential appointees. I do hope the just lately launched National Policy on Judiciary 2024 will make it attainable to infuse accountability and clear disclosure instruments into all features of judicial appointments.



About Author

You may also like


Protesting Zamfara neighborhood barricades Govt House, faults troops withdrawal

There was tension in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital on Sunday, as residents of Bini village in the Maru Local

How to spice up your checking account, cellular pockets safety

Cybercriminals are constantly devising new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and steal sensitive information. DANIEL ADAJI outlines ways to safeguard your