CJN writes Buhari’s adviser, demands details of “delayed” cases at Supreme Court

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen being sworn in as CJN
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen being sworn in as CJN

An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Okoi Obono-Obla, has been asked to furnish the Supreme Court with cases that are being delayed or pending in the apex court, as well as the Court of Appeal.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, made the request to Mr. Obono-Obla in a letter written to him on September 7.

Mr. Obono-Obla, a human rights lawyer, is the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions.

The CJN was responding to a reported media remark by Mr. Obono-Obla that ”corruption and inefficiency were destroying the Nigerian judiciary.”

Mr. Obono-Obla was specifically quoted in the Nation newspaper as saying that lawyers and litigants in the country “pay through their noses” to have their cases assigned to judges, adding that there was a case he personally filed at the Supreme Court and ”it is yet to be assigned to a judge after 10 years.”

“His Lordship, the Chief Justice of Nigeria is desirous to make a positive change in the judiciary, hence has requested that you please oblige the Honourable Court with details of all your pending or delayed appeals filed at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court since 2007,” Mr. Onnoghen said in the letter issued on his behalf by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hadizatu Mustapha.

The letter said that the request was to enable the CJN “take necessary steps to ensure redress.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Obono-Obla has said the CJN’s response was commendable, but that the issue at stake wasn’t about him as an individual.

“I am not saying that only my cases should be heard; they should hear all cases,” he told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday.

Mr. Obono-Obla said that he has six cases pending at the Supreme Court and up to five in the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

“I don’t want to count the ones I have in the Courts of Appeal in Calabar and in Port Harcourt,” he said.

“The system should work so that matters should not linger on in the Supreme Court for more than six months, at most, so that Nigerians could have confidence in the judiciary system. If people don’t have confidence in the judiciary system they begin to resort to self-help and it will not help us.”

Mr. Obono-Obla called for a reform that would aid the Supreme Court to dispense justice quickly and effectively.

“The Supreme Court shouldn’t burden itself with lots of cases,” he said.

“Cases like matrimonial matters and small contractual disputes should terminate in the Court of Appeal. Serious cases bordering on conflicts between the different branches of government, between the federal and state governments could be heard at the Supreme Court.

“Alternatively, the states should have their courts of appeal and supreme courts as it is obtainable in the U.S,” he said.


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  • Frank Bassey

    Thanks, CJN. That is the way to go. But I can assure you Obono-Obla, our brother, will produce NOTHING. He will prevaricate, dabble into something else, speak uncontrollably and incoherently, argue noisely …. End of the matter. He and Prof. Sagey are in the business of pleasing Buhari, adding no value but nuisance value.

    • share Idea

      Have you not seen his reply when CJN have asked him to be specific, he started telling us usual story.

      • Frank Bassey

        IF HE WAS “SPECIFIC” THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO NEED FOR THE QUERY. BUT THE MAN TALKS SO CARELESSLY AND THAT WAS WHAT PROMPTED THE QUERY. WHY WAS HE NOT “SPECIFIC” AB INITIO?

        • Ajayi Ifayemi

          So it is a query? I thought it is a request.

          • Daniel

            The word ‘query’ is purely technical in legal terms.

            ‘Request’ is a general word for the same purpose.

            So Frank Bassy is in line.

          • Ajayi Ifayemi

            Look above at his response and maybe you will get the drift about his thinking in this case, which is in line with mine and most Nigerians. We understand what query means, but we kind of use it differently.

          • Daniel

            Just an observer.

          • Frank Bassey

            Are you concerned about Q or R? That is unnecessary semantic. You alluded to a wrong-doing, and a superior authority demanded for proof or evidence, what do you call that? A request? Please get more serious.

          • Ajayi Ifayemi

            I do not believe that Obla works for the CJN. Can only request, as he has rightly done.

          • Frank Bassey

            Check your Dictionary, for the meaning of Query. It is not restricted to disciplinary procedure which, I believe, was your understanding.

          • Ajayi Ifayemi

            You alluded to that when you talked about superior, my brother.

          • Frank Bassey

            Yes. Both are in the Legal profession, mind you.

          • Ajayi Ifayemi

            He still cannot query him in that sense. He is not his boss. What he did was request for information. He did not even request for explanation of anything, which is the sense in which we use “query”. He requested for a list of his cases. We are playing around with words here but the truth of the matter is, he has no control over what Obla does or does not do. The worst he can do is not vote for him to become a SAN, abi?

          • Frank Bassey

            My Dictionary explains the meaning of ‘Query’ to include: “To dispute or question the accuracy of a thing; and to demand for a clarification …”

          • Ajayi Ifayemi

            This is becoming a theoretical exercise. You know what you meant originally. No further point to be made from my side.

    • GusO

      You’re so selective in what you imbibe into your mind when you read a story. You didn’t remember Mr. Obono-Obla’s response.

      • Frank Bassey

        His response was an after-thought. If you have followed his utterances in recent past, you will marvel that a man in such a sensitive position could be so garrulous. Was it his response that triggered CJN’s letter, or his earlier utterance? Are you sure we are on the same page.

        • Ajayi Ifayemi

          You did not answer his question. I believe I read somewhere in his response that he has 6 cases pending at the supreme court and 5 at the appeals court. That does not sound like an after-thought to me.

          • Frank Bassey

            You do not seem to understand CJN’s “request”. Please, what are these cases? I am not sure you have listened to Obla talk bla-bla. It can be disgusting. When he appears on TV for what should be a display of knowledge, logic and facts, he sounds infuriated — making wide allegations that touch everything – from his grandfather’s grave to his grandmother’s cooking pot. If you have 11 cases, it is now time to mention them and show them to the public. The CJN is demanding for the cases. We are all ears.

      • Frank Bassey

        Please “remind” me his responses. Perhaps we read different responses.

    • Boss

      I can give you one right now. It is the appeal of EFCC against the judgement that prohibited it from investigating that former governor of Rivers State whose wife is now a justice of the Supreme Court (can’t remember his name now). That appeal has been pending for over 8 years now.
      The CJN will get a long list, this I can assure you.

      • Frank Bassey

        If you are SURE of your fact, why not make it open and publicly protest against it. That is the way to go. You do not keep quiet when you know you are SURE about a thing. It is not always that you need a multitude to attain a goal: We used multitude to stop GEJ from effecting fuel price increase in 2012; we used a handful to achieve the goal of “Resume or Resign”.

  • GusO

    It’s been a surprise to me that unlike the US, the Nigerian Supreme Court does not pick and choose which case to adjudicate. Even when they agree with the lower court, they still go ahead to judge a case. Since they listen to every case, that’s in part responsible for why the Supreme Court is clogged up. The additional reason is that the Supreme Court has so many unqualified judges that were politically appointed. They’re lazy and don’t partake in dispensing justice at the court unless their political godfathers are the subject of law suits.

    • Alhaji

      95% of them are islamist corrupt, quota judges who went to Sudan to read koran and when they came back, they were appointed as Federal and Supreme Court judges. How will they know what the laws say unless they are written in Hausa. These people have destroyed Nigeria, completely. Look at the Minister of Justice for example, how many cases has he won against corruption? Zero because he is part of them

  • International games

    Does this Government care about Court Rulings? I am surprised.

  • Gerald Okoduwa

    What a meek defense to a very valid point raised. The supreme court registrar is in a position to know how many of such cases are pending instead of retorting back to the person that raised the issue. The CJN is used to defending matters before investigation. I remember he once said there is no corruption in the judiciary and that those making such allegations are not sure. Is this how to govern the Judiciary?

  • JasV

    What type of useless CJN is this? So your Chief Registrar or Chief Regislooter can not furnish you with records of all cases that have not been assigned? SHAME