The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has denied advocating the establishment of special courts by the judiciary.
In a statement signed by Mr Onnoghen’s media assistant, Awassam Bassey, on Tuesday, the chief justice said any report saying he advocated such “misinterpreted” his words, during an interview with journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the statement, Mr Onnoghen never advocated the establishment of special courts to be a sole-creation of the judiciary.
“The attention of the Honourable Chief justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has been drawn to a misleading sub-headline on Page 8 of The Nation newspaper of Wednesday, April 25, 2018 which reported His Lordship’s interaction with State House Correspondents after his meeting with His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on Tuesday 24th April, 2018.
“The headline of the story, “Don’t Blame Judges for Delayed Cases, Says CJN” captured the actual thrust of the Hon. CJN’s comments but the sub-head: “Executive, Legislature Should Establish Special Courts”, gives the impression that His Lordship the Hon. CJN was advocating for the establishment of Special Courts. This cannot be further from the truth.
“The exact words of the Hon. CJN, during his interaction with State House Correspondents at the Presidential Villa, were as follows:
“It is the Executive that has the prerogative in conjunction with the legislature to set up courts, including the Special Courts, under our Constitution. It is not the duty of the Judiciary nor that of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“‘If the executive and the legislature, who have the powers, decide to establish a special Court or any other Court for that matter, the Judiciary will run it by providing the manpower,” the statement said.
Also, according to the statement, the chief justice explained that part of the functions of the Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee was to identify defaulters responsible for the unnecessary delay of court cases.
“The Hon. CJN then proceeded to elaborate on the efforts of the judiciary, which he heads, in speedy trial of corruption cases in the following words:
“Under the circumstances, I must admit that so far, so good. It is in order to make you know the workings of the system that I set up the COTRIMCO (Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee). All along, everybody is passing the buck right, left and centre. The prosecutor is saying ‘no, it is not our responsibility; we are not the cause of the delay’. The investigator is saying, ‘I am not the cause’. The judge will say, ‘I am not the cause.
“So, the people must know who is actually causing the delay. That is why I set up the Committee; and it is made up of the Defense Counsel, the Prosecutor and the Judiciary under the NJC (National Judicial Council).
“This Statement is to set the record straight and re-iterate the position of the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, which he has publicly stated several times, including most recently at a workshop organised by the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD) at the Shehu Musa YarÁdua Centre, Abuja, that the power to establish any Court under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, lies with the Executive and Legislative arms of government; not with the Hon. CJN or the Judiciary,” the statement said.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier published details of the CJN’s interview with journalists.
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