The immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen has warned that unless adequately funded, the Supreme Court may soon at best be a glorified High Court.
The former CJN, who gave the warning lamented that justices of the apex court had been suffering in silence since 2008 when their salaries and emoluments were last reviewed.
Onnoghen, who spoke yesterday, in Abuja, at the public presentation of Nigeria’s first law book on Construction Law, revealed that some justices of the apex court still live in rented accommodations in unsuitable areas in the Federal Capital Territory.
Besides accommodation issue, the former CJN explained that chambers of the Supreme Court Justices were unbefitting of their status and called for their proper funding to enable them perform optimally.
He recalled that while in office as CJN, he headed a team comprising the Attorney General of the Federation as well as Solicitor General of the Federation which prepared a new welfare scheme on the order of the federal government and lamented that since his exit, the prepared welfare scheme which would have enhanced the condition of service of the justices had been jettisoned.
He, therefore, pleaded that funding of judiciary should be immediately looked into with a view to improving on it because of the critical role of the Judiciary in nation building.
Maintaining that the Supreme Court was still been overworked with justices bearing the brunt, Onnoghen canvassed that appeal cases should not get to Supreme Court as of right but by leave of the court.
“The judiciary is not Nigeria’s problem but bad leadership. There must be a rethink on issues affecting Judiciary, because without a strong legal profession, you cannot talk of the rule of law”, he said.
He commended the author of the book, Mrs. Ewuwuni Onnoghen-Theophilus and pleaded that youths should be encouraged to enable them contribute meaningfully to the general development of the country.
Also speaking at the book presentation, a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Bayo Ojo, praised the resourcefulness of the author and expressed optimism that the book would serve as veritable tool to address the crisis bedeviling construction industry in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the occasion, the publisher of the book, a senior lawyer, Chief James Onoja, opined that laws on construction industry as brought out in the book would serve as guide to players in the construction industry, especially in the incessant cases of collapse structure.
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