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Judicial rot: I am vindicated -Obono-Obla

*As Supreme Court replies him in writing

*We have an oppressive and unworkable court system

Days ago, Presidential aide on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, took a swipe at the nation’s Supreme Court charging at her for the rot in the Nigerian judicial system.

The Supreme Court has written, requesting him to send a list of his cases, both in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, which have not been listed for hearing.

In a reaction to the letter, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution and Chairman, Special Presidential Panel For the Recovery Of Public Property, listed some of his pending cases in the courts to include:

  1. Dr Mathias Offoboche vs Cletus Offoboche (2007);
  2. Obono Egom vs Eno Omini;
  3. Chief Akin Ricketts versus Helen Eyo;
  4. Obono-Obla versus Federal Road Safety Commission.

Speaking on the development, Obono-Obla stated, “I have been vindicated! It shows that we can effect a change when we speak out against societal ills.”

Giving further insight into his experiences in Nigerian courts, he said, “My wife used to work as Senior Legal Officer with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Then in March 2004, she was purportedly terminated from her job. She did not commit any offence! The Obasanjo presidency just woke up and ordered a rationalisation exercise of federal agencies in the aviation industry.

She challenged her purported removal in the Federal High Court and after about seven years of litigation she won the case in 2011. The Federal High Court held that her termination was wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional and set it aside and ordered her reinstatement.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority appealed the judgment, but up till this moment the appeal is yet to be heard, after nearly six years!

She has since moved on. If she was not a lawyer she will still be languishing. Imagine since 2004, this is the kind of injustice people suffer in Nigeria because of a clumsy court system. Justice is a mirage in Nigeria. The court system must reform!”

Obono-Obla painted another pathetic story of a privileged Nigerian client of his saying, “Recently, one of my clients a former deputy governor of Bauchi State and senator who was wrongly and unconstitutionally impeached by the Bauchi State House of Assembly died without his appeal being heard in the Supreme Court. He was unconstitutionally impeached by the Bauchi State House of Assembly on the instigation of former Governor, Isa Yuguda, because he refused to decamp from the defunct ANPP to PDP when Isa Yuguda changed camp.

He challenged his purported impeachment in the Bauchi State High Court and won. The defendants appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and set aside the judgment of the Bauchi State High Court.

My client, a courteous, noble Nigerian appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court kept on adjourning his appeal for one reason or the other until the man died in August 2017. While on his sick bed he kept on inquiring about his appeal. He was so anxious to have his name cleared, but the Supreme Court was never bothered until the man died and carried the stigma to his grave. What a travesty of Justice! This is but a tip off the iceberg of the egregious injustice Nigerians suffer every day because of an oppressive and unworkable court system.”

Obono-Obla decried the unfortunate and sad situation of the Nigerian court system and legal practitioners’ attitude to same saying, “How can investors come to the country with such an unserious court system! Lawyers know the truth but are not prepared to rock the boat. They don’t want to incur the wrath of judges who always victimise lawyers that they perceive as bold, progressive and courageous. The lawyers think if they criticise the system judges will not support them when they apply to be SAN or judges or will not even win their cases. But this is wrong!

“Very soon lawyers will run out of business because people will simply settle scores on their own terms, if we continue like this. Nobody wants to go to court again to be bogged down by a chaotic and disorderly court system.”

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