Judiciary Not Absolutely Independent, Presidential Aide Tells NJC

The National Judicial Council may just have been looking for an escape route for judges raided by the Department of State Services (DSS) on corruption allegation as they may not be independent afterall.

This is the summation from a statement released by Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, the senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on prosecution and legal matters.

Obono-Obla was reacting to the claim by the NJC that the judiciary is independent of the executive arm.

To the NJC, the arrest of some judges recently by the Department of State Services after a raid on their houses amounts to an abuse of power on the part of the security operatives.

There have been dissenting opinions since the judges were arrested and huge sums and properties allegedly found in their possession.

He agreed that the three arms of government have their various roles.

“However, these functions and responsibilities do overlap and sometimes are duplicated!

“In theory each branch of government is supposed to be independent, however in practice each branch act as a check and balance on one another.

“This is why ministers and other appointees of the executive branch of government must be confirmed by the Senate after appointment by the president!

“Even though, the legislature is conferred with power to make law, sometimes the President do make law though executive orders!” He said.

He further argued that the judges of the Court of Appeal, Federal High Court and Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president even though they are recommended by the National Judicial Council.

According to him, the president is vested with the power to remove Judges on recommend by the National Judicial Council.

“So the National Judicial Council should not give the impression that the judiciary is absolutely independent and not accountable to any other branch whatsoever.

“There is strict compartmentalization of powers in practice among the three branches of government in practice!

“If the judiciary is totally independent, why did the NJC recommend and forward the name of Justice Onnoghen for appointment as the next chief justice of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari?

“Even after he is appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate has to confirm Justice Onnoghen, so whence is the independence, the NJC is pontificating about?” He said in the statement reported by the APC TV

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