By Dayo Benson, Abdulwahab Abdulah & Bartholomew Madukwe
I LOOK forward to a vibrant and fearless judiciary in 2016. The Courts should be ready and willing to perform their constitutional role of adjudication in disputes between individuals, governments and corporate entities. They have always carried out the duty of adjudication to the admiration of so many of us lawyers and we look forward to the courts continuing in the performance of this constitutional function without fear or favor.
Judges should generally be fearless in their application of the law to the facts presented. The law is the law and ought to be applied as it is no matter the caliber, character and standing of the disputants. It is only when the law is applied as it is that society runs smoothly and social, economic and political developments are guaranteed.
Judges should ensure that cases of high profile defendants are determined— Chief Morah Ekwunoh
Though not speaking with the precise clairvoyance of Nostradamus who clearly saw tomorrow, I see 2016 as a sign-post of daunting challenges for the judiciary, which it is highly hoped will pass through the crucible of annihilation, in view of the judiciary’s expected vibrancy in confronting them. These challenges, I posit, will largely spring from the imperative of keeping the stream of justice pure, clean and ever-flowing, by fairly holding the scale of criminal justice in the ensuing battles between a government, led by a new sheriff in town, genuinely determined to quickly exterminate corruption in all its facets.
On the one hand; cases of high profile defendants should equally be determined conversely to ensure that their arraignments and prosecutions be done and determined in strict tandem with corresponding respect for court judgments, orders and rulings, as well as their inalienable rights to principally fair-hearing, personal liberty and presumption of innocence, among others, in line with the principles of constitutional law, democracy and rules of natural justice.
Already, we have seen recent disobedience by the government of valid subsisting court orders for release of some of these high profile defendants, who had fully met their bail conditions as imposed by the courts. Coupled with President Buhari’s more recent stirring of the hornets’ nest, by publicly owning up to and justifying the obvious extra-judicial and contemptuous detentions, judges in 2016 should combine to highlight the more daunting nature of the aforesaid challenges for the judiciary, in terms of ensuring that its judgments, orders and rulings are obeyed and not stifled by any of the contending parties, including the government.
In these unfortunate cases of disobedience of court orders referenced herein, I further posit that all the swarmings and venomous stingings of the hornets, as represented by strident condemnations from the human rights community, as expectedly flowing from the said government’s disobedience and the pitch and substance of the President’s speech in support thereof, can be fully blamed on the person and office of our learned silk and colleague,
Mallam Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, whose actions or inactions as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, led directly or vicariously to the sad disobedience and presidential faux pas. This must not be allowed to continue, either in intensity or scope, as such will, certainly belittle us in the eyes of the outside world.
With expectations in the above critical area met by the judiciary, as highly hoped, in consideration of its positioned vibrancy, other expectations therefrom include, inter alia, urgent substitution of snail-speed justice administration with its fast-track counterpart; provision of effective bulwark against corruption, whether from outside, or within, the justice sector; fight for its complete financial autonomy, particularly in relation to its right and access to constitutionally allocated revenue votes, which rights and access judgment of the Federal High Court has given impetus to and revisitation of criteria for appointment of judges, with a view to placing merit over and above other primordial considerations.
Judges should live above board —Jiti Ogunye
The Judiciary has constitutional cum political obligations to fulfil this year. First, the judiciary has to rap up the election tools, especially at the Supreme Court. Our expectation is that the elecfor disobedience of court orders. Never again should we have a judiciary that would pretend to be deaf and blind to the statement and attitude of President Buhari who said Kanu, the self determination rights Activist could run away if released as the courts have ordered.
There is an urgent need to let the masses of Nigeria know that the Nigerian courts are courts of justice and that they are not courts that carry out the whims and caprices of the economically wealthy and/or the politically powerful individuals and groups. Never again should we have a situation where a judge who was appointed chairman of an election petition Tribunal would be removed with ignominy on the ground of not agreeing to do the bidding of the politically powerful forces. I look forward to a judiciary that would rise up to resist the avalanche of denigrating attacks on the autonomy and freedom of the judiciary from the executive.
I look forward to seeing a judiciary populated by people who are primarily motivated with doing justice, not people who are compelled to go to the bench by begging the political class because of failed private business and/or failed private legal practice in the context of harsh macroeconomic environment. In the area of speedy dispensation of justice, I look forward to a judiciary that would remove time wasting activities and processes based on a system of self-criticism and experience-based solutions from stakeholders. I look forward to a judiciary that would not sacrifice justice and rights of persons for the share goal of speedy dispensation of justice. In the area of human values to be promoted, I look forward to a judiciary that is poised to fight against corruption.
Stakeholders in administration of justice should be up and doing- Qudus Mumuney 2015 saw the inauguration of a new administration whose mantra is “Change”. From all indications, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to set Nigeria on the path to greatness. My expectation of 2016 for the judiciary is to see a sector where all the stakeholders in the administration of justice are up and doing. Lawyers and judges should ensure that they work cooperatively for the ultimate restoration of the judiciary as the last hope of everyone. The unthinkable corruption and outrageous indiscipline that had bedevilled the judiciary should be tackled head on by the leadership of both the bar and the bench.
I expect that there would be numerous economic opportunities in 2016. Lawyers who are competent in commercial transactions, corporate practice and negotiation should also position themselves strategically to provide the needed advise/support to local and international emerging business concerns in Nigeria. We should not witness a 2016 where business enterprises would import legal advise for doing business in Nigeria.