By Kunle Akinsola
Few months after his confirmation as the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Tanko Muhammad, seems to have asserted himself, saying under his watch anarchy, impunity and constitutional violations will not be allowed to reign in Nigeria.
“The rule of law must be observed in all our dealings and we must impress it on the governments at all levels to actively toe the path.
“The right of every citizen against any form of oppression and impunity must be jealously guarded and protected with the legal tools at our disposal.
“All binding court orders must be obeyed,’’ he said at a special session to mark the beginning of the 2019 to 2020 legal year and swearing-in of 38 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
Muhammad, who took over from Justice Walter Onnoghen early this year in the wake of probe by the Federal Government for allegedly failing to declare his assets.
On June 9, 2019, at age 68, Onnoghen’s retirement letter was finally accepted by President Muhammadu Buhari weeks after.
Continuing the CJN said:“Nobody, irrespective of his or her position, will be allowed to toy with court judgments.
“We will strongly hold on to the tenets of the constitution as the Supreme law of the land.’’
According to Mohammad, the rule of law which is the bastion of every democracy across the world will be strictly observed in Nigeria henceforth.
He called on all to collectively show the desired commitment to the full enthronement of the rule of law in Nigeria.
“As we all know, flagrant disobedience of court orders or non compliance with judicial orders is a direct invitation to anarchy in the society.
“Such acts are completely antithetical to the rule of law in a democratic environment, and will not be tolerated under my watch as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“We must work together to make Nigeria one of the frontline countries that observe the rule of law and rights of the citizens in all ramifications,’’ the head of the judicial arm said, insisting on total independence of the judicial arm of government.
He noted that for the judiciary to go cap in hand always to the Executive arm was undermining its independence.
Muhammad promised that the judiciary under him is vigorously embracing technology to fast track its processes.
“We have automated our library with Liberty5 software, our classifications and catalogues are now done online.
“We have also subscribed to Weatlaw which has content of over 6000 law books and journals, and access to the library will soon be made available to everyone that is entitled to browse”.
Describing the Supreme Court of Nigeria as the busiest and most hardworking Supreme Court in the world, he said: “During the 2018 to 2019 legal year, the Supreme Court entertained 1,874 cases of which 788 were civil, 262 criminal, and 65 political.
“Similarly, the court considered 759 appeals, comprising of 215 civil, 156 criminal and 388 political.
“A total of 324 judgments were delivered in the year: this score card is impressively fascinating.
“I attribute this tremendous success to the doggedness and team spirit exhibited by my brother justices and the general staff.
He added: “It is on record that we work from Monday to Friday every week: on Wednesdays we do Chamber sitting to consider non-contentious matters while we deliver judgments and rulings on Fridays”.
Muhammad, therefore, appealed to the public to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to free the courts of unnecessary over-stretching of their human and material resources.
“As rightly observed, Nigerians are the most litigious people on earth.
“In every little disagreement, we rush to court, in every lost case, we rush to appeal even up to the Supreme Court”, he said.
Among the new silks (SANs) are the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata and Lagos-based human rights activist, Mr Ebun-olu Adegboruwa.
Others are the wife of a Justice of the Supreme Court, Mrs Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour, Abdullahi Haruna, Manga Nuruddeen, John Onuegbulam Asoluka, Adedokun Makinde, Daniel Enwelum, Emmanuel Oyebanji, Tuduru Ede, Abdul Ajana and Ama Etuwewe and Oladipo Olasope.
Others are Leslie Nylander, Olusegun Fowowe, Andrew Hutton, Olukayode Enitan, Paul Ogbole, Olaniyi Olopade, Samuel Agweh, Olusegun Jolaawo, Prof. Alphonsus Alubo, Ayo Asala, Abiodun Olatunji, Olumide Aju, Chimezie Ihekweazu and Prof. Mamman Lawan.
The others are Prof. Uchefula Chukwumaeze, Usman Sule, Safiya Badamasi, Echezona Etiaba, Godwin Omoaka. Emeka Ozoani, Alexander Ejesieme, Jephthah Njikonye, Aihkunegbe Malik, Alhassan Umar and Oyetola Atoyebi.