The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba SAN, has asked the National Judicial Council (NJC) to heed the issues raised by retired Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad in his valedictory speech.
Agbakoba, in an interview with Arise Television, noted that NJC needs to take action in order to address the ‘rot’ in Nigeria’s judicial system.
He stressed that Dattijo’s speech was not maligning the character of Chief Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, but only addressing the inconsistencies of the office.
According to Agbakoba, the corruption that Dattijo mentioned in his recent speech was also mentioned by Justice Samson Uwaifo in his valedictory speech in 2004.
He stated, “I think what lessons we should draw from what Justice Dattijo had said is to implement a report that was put together, in my view, perhaps the most reformist CJN in Nigeria, that is, the late Justice Dahiru Mustapha.”
“The problem with judges is that they have no clue as to judicial administration versus administration of justice,” he added.
Agbakoba argued that Dattijo used the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to describe the ‘rot’ that is occurring in the legal system and not Ariwoola himself.
“He really wasn’t attacking the current CJN. He was referring more to the institutional lapses that has occurred over the last, God knows, how long now.”
The former NBA president claimed that the situation with the Supreme Court is ‘toxic’, and it needs to change.
He said, “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 take the opportunity of the lesson, I think, that 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.”
“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. The judiciary is going to go downhill.”
“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,” he said.