A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has said the judiciary is the most undemocratic arm of government.
Agbakoba stated this while reacting to the speech of retired Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad at his valedictory session last week Friday in Abuja.
In an interview on Arise News on Monday, Agbakoba said the National Judicial Council (NJC) needs to take note of the points that were raised by Justice Dattijo in order to address the decay in Nigeria’s judicial system.
Agbakoba also emphasized that Dattijo’s speech was not in any way impugning the character of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, but was addressing the inconsistencies of the office in itself.
He said: “He really wasn’t attacking the current CJN. He was referring more to the institutional lapses that have occurred over the last God knows how long now.”
Agbakoba stated that the corruption that Dattijo mentioned in his recent speech was also mentioned by Justice Samson Uwaifo in his valedictory speech in 2004, and as such, this had been a long-standing issue.
“I think what lessons we should draw from what Justice Dattijo had said is to implement a report that was put together by the, in my view, perhaps the most reformist CJN in Nigeria, that is, the late Justice Dahiru Mustapha. If this report is implemented, it will take care of all the issues.
“Of the three arms of government- the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary, the most undemocratic is actually the judiciary, so that’s where the problem is. So, what I would recommend to the current NJC is to have a very good look at the report, update it, and absolutely remove the powers of the CJN to be everywhere.
“The difference between a judge of the high court and the CJN is like God in heaven and somebody on earth. We need to really really take the opportunity of the lesson I think Dattijo Muhammed’s valedictory- which has been the most candid- has given us. It’s to understand where we are in the judiciary, and if we want to reverse judicial failure, then the current NJC must implement it.
“The problem with judges is that they have no clue as to judicial administration versus administration of justice,” he said.
The senior lawyer also asked the judiciary to work on the issues raised by Dattijo otherwise, the “judiciary is going to go downhill.”
He said: “Public opinion of the judiciary is at its lowest ebb, and I think that this is something that the judiciary ought to take very seriously. They ought to take the points made by Justice Dattijo Mohammed extremely seriously.”
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