In the last 12 years, salaries of Nigerian judges have not been reviewed. In a review of development of inflation rates in Nigeria between 1979 and 2019, by Worlddata,the average inflation rate was calculated at 19.2 per cent. Now, hold your breath. The report added “overall, the price increase was 80,304.39 per cent. An item that cost N100 in 1979 was so charged N80,404.39 in the beginning of 2020. In only a very few countries, the price increase is that high. The rate of 72.8 per cent in 1995 means that compared to the previous year, all prices have been increased by an average of 72.8 per cent. In comparison to other countries, the drastic price increases are no longer on average. Usually this is a sign of political and economic turmoil.”
Consider also the almighty green back, the foreign currency that now determines cost of tomato in Ajangbadi. In 2008, it oscillated between N115.50 and N120. It has quadrupled today.
For those expected not to do PP, and in the age of nauseating materialism, Nigerian judges will collect bribe and they are collecting it, except those, eternally sold to Christ. And the alibis are ready-made. The head of a man in lack can’t be ensconced in wig and he isn’t different from MC Oluomo’s lickspittle who must take something home, after paraga rounds.
If President Muhammadu Buhari’s sincerity can be vouched, his Executive Order 10 should be like the Udoji Award (Jerome Oputa Udoji) of Yakubu Gowon era, to today’s Bench. The only problem is that unlike the delivered goodies of the early 70s, this iyan Buhari (poundo flour of 1984) may end up a Yoruba teaser, oju lo fi ri (a pipe dream). The horns of this Sallah ram are entangled in the weird politics of Governors’ Forum and Villa. Any time those two are yoked, the signs are always troubling. Something ‘people-ish’ is always lost to it. This time, the gazetting of the Order, which should breathe new life into the judiciary, appears to have disappeared at APC secretariat.
But Buhari’s half measure should deserve some applause. Here is a man with undisguised revulsion for a whole institution, which in some sense, will also deserve some of the stones hurled at it, considering how fetid the bad eggs in its midst, smell, including the constantly-fallible Supreme Court.
Yes, the president’s friend is now in the saddle as the numero uno and his desire to free the judiciary from the state governors and hopefully from his own stranglehold, could be due to having his desired CJN in place or just simply seeking a legacy with the Bench and Bar, after years of animosity. Such armistice should be desirable for all parties, only that even the president’s recent actions, months back, do not suggest a genuine romance.
Here is a president who has refused, to release a duly-appropriated N20 billion judiciary fund to the NJC, all through last year. And to think his “CJN”, who also heads the Council, is in office. Just like with Nd’Igbo, it is doubtful if the president’s animus, toward the judiciary, will ever thaw, possibly due to his strong conviction that the system operators, took away his best presidential years, by not shooing him in, earlier, especially in 2011. The night of June 15, 2015, 17 days after vows, the president was already lamenting coming in, too old. Five years after, the visible loss of all vibrancy, possibly explains his pains.
If Buhari is refusing to drop monies properly appropriated for the judiciary, what moral justification does he have seeking to deny governors similar opportunity to abuse their office? The president is coming to equity with soiled fingers, but it is good he is trying to ensure honour among thieves of which he could be numbered if unconstitutional denial of due fund would be so deemed. Was Obasanjo not roundly excoriated for partial illegality of withholding Lagos local governments fund over partial illegality of operating inchoate LCDAs?
Under Buhari, judiciary has suffered humiliating worsting. A sitting CJN was flown away like a misdirected kite. A jejune order which should earn the issuer a slam slammed the door on Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, making him the second Christian CJN in less than eight years to unceremoniously leave the post without the ritualistic Valedictory Court session. The first being late Aloysius Katsina-Alu from Benue State. Though he completed his tenure, the slugfest with Ayo Salami was a yoke he burdened home. He never returned.
As it is today, only President Buhari can explain why he signed Order 10, when he hasn’t fared better than the governors who are meant to lose their real and imagined influence over the judges in their domains. It beggars sense that an administration that wants to reform the judiciary and had actually taken unprecedented, amoral but desirable steps of conducting midnight raids on judges’ homes, detaining some and putting senior judges on trial for alleged corruption, would now sit back and watch the Supreme Court depleted to 12 justices out of maximum 21 and refusing to complete the appointment process of four appeal court judges, approved by the NJC to move up. Since October 2019, the names of Justices Adamu Jauro, Emmanuel Agim, C. Oseji and Helen Ogunwumiju have been in the president’s drawer. Who does that!
It is doubtful if this administration knows much about cementing a legacy. Even if Trump loses the Fall election in the US, Liberal and far-Left are already worried about the 200 conservative judges’ appointments he already made in less than four years, which would mark a major legacy for him and the tendency he represents. Yes, Ronald Reagan holds the record of highest number with 382, followed by Bill Clinton with 378. But, there is no wishing Trump away and for a record seeker he is, he will likely best the duo, if he has a second term. That is how legacies are built. Definitely, Trump Era is assured.
While the Nigerian leader is inexplicably sitting on crucial Supreme Court nominations, which should fast track the reforms he is eyeing in the justice sector, to up the game in looters’ trial, and achieve prison decongestion, Trump in his swashbuckling wily ways, is already touting a Conservative replacement for ailing Liberal SOTUS Justice, 87-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg; his hater. Even if it is an appeal to his base, at least, he is slinging to kill multiple birds at the same time. Didn’t David get Goliath that way?
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