PBS: Escaping Eritrea … [Read More...] about ካብ ውሽጢ ቤት ማእሰርታት ኤርትራ
Published On: Mon, Mar 9th, 2015, Peoples Daily (Nigeria)
Barrister Max Ozoaka, is a constitutional lawyer of over 24 years and publisher of Nigeria’s foremost specialized Law Reports of the Supreme Court. In this interview, he bares his mind on why the 15th Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN)Justice Mahmud Mohammed, is expected to introduce some radical reforms into the Nigerian Judiciary. Also, he touches on other sundry issues affecting the sector. Stanley Onyekwere reports.
The new NBA President on assuming office sacked some committees of the association like the Business Law (SBL) committee; but some lawyers who do not agree with that leadership style have gone to court to challenge him. What’s your take on this?
I wouldn’t want to make much comment on that matter considering the fact that it is sub judice. The NBA President campaigned for that office, he presented his manifestos; there were also other contestants to the office, but was chosen by his colleagues to lead. Now, having accepted and voted him in as the one who should lead us at this point in time; and he thinks there are measures he need to take to achieve his vision for the association; why going to court? Personally, I believe in giving encouragement to the leader and wait for him to prove himself good and competent or otherwise; and the next election we take more informed decision based on his performance. To me, going to court is disparaging the steps he is taking to actualize his manifestoes. I believe that the association’s Section on Business Law (SBL) committee should be there, but if he feels he should be scrapped as has done, let’s give him the benefit of doubt and see how it will impact us positively. There are other things he has done which are quite interesting, even though I do not agree with him, but I don’t see it as enough reason to begin to challenge him unnecessary.
What radical reforms do you want the 15th Chief Justice of Nigeria to introduce in Nigerian Judiciary?
Nigeria is overdue for a constitutional court. The CJN should appoint more Judges. If you go to the Federal High Courts you will find a Judge having up to 16 to 20 cases in a day; it is obvious that these Judges are not coping, not because they are incompetent but the volume of work is too much for them. The CJN should build more courts and provide facilities for speedy administration of Justice; till today court proceedings are still been recorded manually. He should also ensure that Judges don’t compromise; there have been reports and complaints here and there; though unfounded, of Judges compromising their integrity. He should also ensure that any Judge found to have compromised any Judgment is adequately disciplined.
Another radical impact which the CJN is expected to make is to secure the independence of the Judiciary; this is one area where things are not comfortable in the Judiciary. This is also the basis of the recent JUSUN strike. I don’t feel comfortable that the Judiciary will depend wholly on the executive to get its financial funding. Any person depending on another for funding is not independent of that person. The CJN should strive to secure complete independence of the Judiciary from the other two arms of government. If the Judiciary becomes indeed independent, the judges will be emboldened to do their jobs without any fear of being starved of fund by the politicians.
The storm stirred up by Buhari’s certificate saga is yet to settle. As a constitutional lawyer do you think that he has committed perjury?
As a matter of fact I have gone to court over that and very soon it will become a public knowledge. The thing is clear, if I say that this thing is with me, when I know and ought to know that it is somewhere else; if I do that under oath that is perjury. Now at the time he enrolled in the Army his certificates ought to be submitted to the military board, and if it was submitted; in my views, there is no reason why it ought not to be there, if the certificates of the other persons are there. So, who is fooling who? If he didn’t submit it, it is either that the certificates do not exist or they were submitted but was stolen from there; is our military such an establishment where documents as important as that can be taken away? In a circumstance as this, the onus is on Buhari to take a step further to prove that he actually submitted the certificate; but he has not taken such steps since the military board came out to deny him. Since all these are done under oath, it is undeniable that Buhari perjured.