Don’t use technicalities to obstruct justice, CJN Onnoghen cautions judges

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has cautioned judges against allowing technicalities stand in the way of dispensing justice in the country.

Mr. Onnoghen made the remark on Monday in Abuja when he declared open the 2017 National Energy Workshop for Judges.

He said that judges must not allow technicalities to stand in the way of justice in order to sustain public confidence in the judiciary.

He said that the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) would engender timely disposition of cases and encouraged the judges to adopt it.

The CJN noted that the theme of the workshop: “Law and the Changing Face of Petroleum and Power Sectors in Nigeria”, was relevant in the light of the developments in the international energy market.

He said that the workshop would enlighten the judges on global best practices in confronting the challenges that might arise in the power and petroleum sectors.

“Some of the notable challenges faced are in the areas of taxes, rebates, royalties, demand for corporate social responsibility and environmental disputes which require the courts to adjudicate.”

Mr. Onnoghen, however, noted that conflicting judgments were a necessary part of the judiciary as they helped to strengthen the system.

“Conflicting decisions, unfortunately, are necessary because when you approach a court in Lagos, your facts are stated and the facts of that case are also different in a court in Port Harcourt.

“So, the judge takes a decision based on the facts before him and the law and that is why we have the Court of Appeal who will look at the law and decide,” the CJN said.

He expressed confidence that the workshop would aid the justices and judges in the adjudication and resolution of lingering disputes

In a keynote address, the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, called for measures to speed the “crawling” judicial process in the country.

Mr. Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, described the slow judicial process in the country as “nightmare for investors.”

“We need to evolve measures that will speed up the judicial decisions. We also need these decisions not to be too complicated for investors to easily understand,” he said.

The acting president expressed the need to align the decisions of various courts with some level of credibility to avoid complicated decisions from unnecessary “forum shopping”.

“We need to ensure sanctity of international arbitration and judges should be trained in petroleum and energy sectors so that they will be fully equipped to handle the emerging trends in the sector.”

According to him, petroleum and the power sectors provide 80 per cent of Nigeria’s revenue and over 80 per cent of foreign direct investment.

He added that as critical as the sectors were, if the country was not positioned to supply the necessary power essential for driving the economy, the country would not make much progress.

In a goodwill message, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, noted that the role of the judiciary in the post-privatisation period was to encourage the sector to grow.

He said that the judiciary is to also hold parties to their contracts and ensure that the regulator does not exceed its mandate and that citizens fulfil their civic obligations.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the workshop was organised by the International Institute for Petroleum Energy Law and Policy in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute.

The workshop was organised to draw attention to emerging issues and challenges in the energy sector and to enlighten judges on on-going reforms in the power and energy sectors of the economy.



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  • Sanmi Falae

    Oga Onnoghen, only Mr Femi Falana is perhaps capable of espousing legal technicality in Nigeria. What the rest of you tout as legal technicalities are counter-intuitive cultural nonsense. An example of what you ignorantly call legal technicality is your SAN saying it is not unlawful for Saraki to knowingly withhold declaring an asset in a criminal charge of false asset declaration instituted against him!! The Nigerian Judiciary is a running joke everywhere in the world.

  • Emeka

    Corruption personified!!

  • MINT65

    This man stands for nothing.

  • Ade Omowest

    Mr. CJN, your appeal is too late due to your seemingly corrupt tendency by recalling the indicted Judges and Justices to bench when they are yet to be prosecuted and acquitted of wrong doings. By the way, the most allegedly corrupt lawmaker and the head of the Nigerian NASS has just escaped justice by technicality at CCT.

  • Suleiman Alatise

    Save our face Mr CJ, we have become an object of ridicule because of your actions and inactions.

  • Tommy Soto

    yada yada yada, him say everything but ‘don’t take bribes’

  • Owejah

    They shouldn’t use technicalities, abi? Well since obstruction of justice is clearly your unwritten agenda, what should they use to obstruct justice? Very useless CJ! Sadly the only one that the south – my place – can boast of. Corruption personified and a shame of the highest order.

  • Tola

    Quite convenient to assail our judges for excessive legalese to help looters avoid justice but we must accept that our values and ways are permissive and they encourage corruption. We want conviction except the accused is our brother, sister or friend. Cases that should take 3mths drag for years and very senior lawyers applaud such rigmarole designed to pervert justice rather than serve it. Courts sit on weekends to hear Trumps ‘Muslim ban’ case but we declare 3 mths long break at a time of great emergency. All of us need to condemn all these. The courts presently serve only lawyers and looters but not the people. Law is becoming so irrelevant to the average Nigerian. How can we say a judge can receive a gift of N36m and BMW when I would have been sacked from my own employment if it is proven that I accepted a gift above $150 (no matter the purpose)? And the judge is promptly recalled to continue taking his gifts! The way we are going no conviction will be recorded. When the accused finds a pliable judge or prosecutor, they rush to give judgement and insult our sensibilities with their legalese, but when they find it difficult to compromise the process they embark on rigmarole of sickness and injunctions, as in the case of Metuh. Very sad!

  • ojays

    Justice for sale? Bidding has just started.

  • Rommel

    A judge who has received bribes would always look for reasons to deliver to the paying client, it is usually the case when we see them berating EFCC lawyers on some flimsy technical excuses, that is the tragedy of judiciary in Nigeria and Justice Onnoghen unfortunately represents this decadence

  • deji 3SC (Up shooting)

    Tongue in cheek comments by the CJN. Why would a judge obstruct justice using technicalities if not because of Financial inducement?
    Will it not be better if the CJN reads riot act to corrupt judges that if found to have taken bribe, they will be flushed out?

  • Man_Enough

    this cj reminds me of gej. he came in on the wings of tumultuous support and sympathy only to become a monumental disappointment. his recall of the corrupt judges has stained his integrity.