Friday, 18 September 2015

Anti-Graft War: Buhari Seeking To Reform Judiciary

Muhammadu Buhari is currently faced with the task of restructuring the judiciary in line with his quest to ensure that his administration succeeds in the anti – graft war.

Poised to use the judiciary as a viable tool in the course of change, the president has tasked Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president, to come up with a lasting solution to certain malignant problems in the judicial system.

This Day reports that the vice president in getting the task done has constituted a committee consisting of: Justice Olubunmi Oyewole of the Court of Appeal, Rahman Adeola Ipaye, the deputy chief of staff to the vice president, Femi Falana (SAN) and Tunde Irukera  managing partner of Osinbajo’s law firm Simmons Cooper Partners, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, and Mrs Maryam Uwais.

Information gathered states that the committee has started functioning, making vital suggestions regarding a redirection and re-positioning of the judiciary.

Based on the advise by the Osinbajo constituted body, President Buhari is reported to have constituted a presidential advisory committee on anti-corruption which has Professor Itse Sagay (SAN) as its chairman and Owasanoye as secretary.

Reports show that the advisory committee has no serving or retired judge as its member, though part of the committee’s task is to advise the president on how to reform the criminal justice system.

Another suggestion by the Osinbajo group which is led by Justice Oyewole, is that practising lawyers should be appointed directly into the Supreme Court.

The aim of the practice is to consequently get one of the appointees who could be appointed as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and in turn help the president spearhead the desired change.

However, this advise has been kicked against by some retired CJNs, who debate that experience and background in handling cases as judges must be one of the criteria for anyone to be appointed to the highest bench.

They affirmed their agreement that the president could make appointments directly into the Court of Appeal, but noted that they are opposed to doing the same for the Supreme Court, claiming that at a time when there are many qualified judges, the action will set the wrong precedent.

But some analysts defer to the opinions of the CJNs, they fear that the continued alienation of the judiciary will add no bounce to the Buhari’s course.

Meanwhile, there are rumours that Femi Falana, the famous lawyer and human rights activist, is being considered as the next attorney general of the federation (AGF).

According to an alleged leaked-list of President Buhari’s ministers, Falana seems a strong candidate for the position based on his impeccable personality, strong character and adept knowledge of the law; qualities which the president desires in his drive to cause change and  instill justice in the nation.