*Increased judges from 17 to 21 as stipulated by the Constitution
By Sandra Onyekwere
Justice Walter Onnoghen who appeared before the Senate for screening and confirmation as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) has declared “we still judicial officers who have impeccable characters in the system.”
He vowed that it would be impossible for anybody to cow and pocket the judiciary under his watch.
In response to questions on the Senate’s concerns on judicial absurdities, particularly conflicting judgement, he said: ”Conflicting judgement are bound to happen because the processes are different and the lawyers can adopt any of the choices and the system of Nigeria Judiciary has a way of regulating itself.”
While acknowledging the pressure being put on the judiciary by politicians, he said the moment Nigeria Judiciary was politicised, they will not be justice for anybody, noting that he remains the same person and would not allow the system to be pocketed.
Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio was emphatic that he should address conflicting judgement on the same matter in different Courts, stressing that the situation was becoming an embarrassment to the members of the bench.
He also added that members of the Supreme Court should be increased from 17 to 21 members as stipulated by the Constitution.
On delay of electoral and corruption cases pending in various courts across the federation, Onnoghen revealed that a special panel has been set up to forward list of those cases, promising that they would receive expeditious attention.
He urged litigants to do thorough investigation of cases before approaching the courts so as to enhance adjudication, adding that they were still judicial officers who have impeccable characters in the system.
Senate Committee Chairman on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru sought to know if he will be courageous enough to maintain his stand in the light of lead judgement between Amaechi and INEC in 2005, which led to the arrest of some top judiciary officers.
Responding, Onnoghen opined that he will strengthen the Independence of the judiciary in order to shore up public confidence, particularly as the last hope of the common people.
“Under my watch, the independence of the judiciary will be strengthened because the sector is the last hope of everyman and justice is divine”, he stated.