General News

CJN lashes at AGF Malami, says his incompetence cause of delay in high-profile cases

Access Bank
In a rare show of anger hitherto unknown in the judiciary, Chief Justice of the Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Muhammad, Tuesday tore apart Abubakar Malami, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, for suggesting that the courts are the culprits in the quick discharged of high-profile cases in Nigeria.
A palpably angry CJN, who, all but dismissed the AGF as incompetent, said that the Federal Government rather than the Nigerian courts should be held responsible, substantially for the parlous situation by not doing the right thing, particularly in bringing watery cases.

The CJN, who in a rare outing, spoke against the backdrop of the comments of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who laid the blame on the doorstep of the courts, all but accused the Federal Government of filing frivolous cases, that could hardly stand the test of scrutiny in court.

Malami, on Monday, while appearing on Politics Today, a programme on Channels Television, said the courts were not doing enough in dispensing with high-profile cases, adding that the Federal Government had employed measures to ensure speedy dispensation of cases, and that once a matter is brought before the court, it becomes a judiciary affair.

“As far as the present administration is concerned, delay of cases does not arise. If you are looking at it from the perspective of the legislative framework, we are enforcing provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), as in day-in-day-out prosecution of cases.

“You cannot, by any stretch of imagination, place blame associated with the conclusion and determination of the case on the doorsteps of the Executive. It is exclusively a judicial affair. We have taken steps to provide the legislative framework. We have taken steps in due diligence of prosecution of cases, which as a result of multiple convictions within a span of a year, is a clear pointer that we have indeed promised and delivered.”

But in a quick riposte, on Tuesday, the CJN, who through his spokesperson, Isah Ahuraka, described Malami’s position as “one-sided,” in a statement, said: “The judiciary by its constitutional position does not have criminal investigation unit or ‘fraud detective squad’ to detect and investigate criminal involvement of any person, neither does it have a garrison command to fight its cause or enforce its orders and decisions.

“More often than not, the federal government’s prosecution sector files more charges than it can prove or provide witnesses to prove, ostensibly at times for the prosecution to even fail. The ACJA referred to by the minister is infected with sores in some parts, making speeding adjudications improbable in some instances, in addition to high volume of cases, limited number of judges, poor infrastructure or archaic equipment.”

The CJN also tackled Malami on the allegation that the judiciary had not been transparent in its budget spending is untrue, adding: “Although judiciary has refrained from joining issues all this while but to state the facts, in line with the budget call circular and ceiling the Federal Government sent to the judiciary before the commencement of the fiscal year, the judiciary prepares its budget estimates for capital, overhead cost and personnel cost according to the ceiling, needs and priority.

“The judiciary defends its budget before the Senate and the House of Representatives committees on judiciary at the National Assembly, besides the initial vetting by the executive. The judiciary has an internal mechanism for budget control and implementation. Each court and judicial body has a budget unit, the account department, internal audit, due process unit, as well as departmental tenders board.

“There is also a due process committee at the NJC and the judicial tenders board that award contracts on expenditure above the approval limit of the accounting officers of the courts and judicial bodies. These layers of control were established by the judiciary to ensure transparency, accountability and effective budget implementation. The type of transparency that the Federal Government has stressed.”

The CJN also stated that NASS usually carried out an oversight function as empowered by sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 constitution, which also mandated it to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

He added: “The executive also put in place some mechanism to monitor budget implementation and accountability in the judiciary through its organs like the office of accountant-general of the federation and auditor-general of the federation and other agencies where the need arises. Apart from the internal audit units of the judiciary, the Federal Audit Department maintains offices in all the courts and judicial bodies that monitor spending in the judiciary. If the federal audit raises a query on any transaction and it is not well defended, it sends such to the public account committees of the national assembly. Officials of the judiciary would be invited to explain themselves.

“The question to ask is who else should the judiciary open its account books to and who among these organs had raised exceptions which were not defended by the third arm? The answer is none. One only hopes that these allegations against the judiciary by the federal government is not just a way of giving a dog a bad name so as to then hang it.”

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button