Against the backdrop of claims by former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Musa Datijo, that the Chief Justice of Nigeria wields enormous powers capable of derailing the course of justice, the House of Representatives has reiterated its readiness to look at the allegations and come up with what is best for the nation’s judiciary.
Justice Datijo, until recently a member of the bench at the apex court, bared his mind last week on the need to prune the powers of the CJN given the oversight functions he exercises on a number of legal institutions across the country.
Speaking at a valedictory session organised in his honour on Friday, Justice Dattijo said, “As presently structured, the CJN is the Chairman of the National Judicial Commission, which oversees both the appointment and discipline of judges. He is equally the chair of the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the National Judicial Institute, and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee that appoints Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
“My considered opinion is that the oversight functions of these bodies should not rest on an individual alone. A person with absolute powers, it is said, corrupts easily and absolutely.
“As chair of the NJC, FJSC, NJI, and LPPC, appointments as council, board, and commitment members are at his pleasure. He neither confers with fellow justices nor seeks their counsel or input on any matter related to these bodies; he has both the final and the only say.
“The CJN has the power to appoint 80 per cent of members of the council and 60 per cent of members of FJSC. The same applies to NJI and LPPC.”
While noting that such enormous powers “are effortlessly abused,” Justice Datijo called for a paradigm shift, saying, “This needs to change. Continued denial of the existence of this threatening anomaly weakens effective judicial oversight in the country. Appropriate steps could have been taken earlier to fill outstanding vacancies in the apex court.
Written by: EaglesFM