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The Evils Of Technical Justice

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Adegboruwa Cautions Against Fresh ENDSARS Protest

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Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN

It was supposed to be a smooth ride into and out of the court, for the plaintiffs, but they got more than what they bargained for, from the judiciary, after so many years of travelling round the hierarchy of the courts, to get justice. This has become the lot of litigants and their lawyers, who daily contend with the frustrating factors hindering the due and effective administration of justice in Nigeria.

Let me share with you the intriguing facts of the case of Boniface Ebere Okezie & 3 Ors. v. Central Bank of Nigeria & 5 Ors. (2020) 15 NWLR (Pt.1747) 181. So it started on one fateful day on 14th August, 2009, when Mallam Lamido Sanusi, then Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, issued an order, removing all the executive directors of Union Bank of Nigeria, UBN, and thereafter appointed Mrs. Funke Osibodu and others, to replace them. About N120 billion was then injected into the UBN, on the grounds that it was weak, undercapitalized and/or insolvent.

These actions were well publicized, with a threat to turn UBN over to the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation or sell it outright, to foreign investors. As a result of the declared crisis in UBN, its erstwhile directors who had been removed from office were handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, for investigation.

Aggrieved with the actions of the CBN governor, some of the shareholders of UBN filed an action at the Federal High Court, Lagos, under section 303 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, seeking leave of court to challenge the actions of the CBN governor, on behalf of UBN, by derivative action. In the originating summons, the plaintiffs did not raise any questions for answer, but set out their claims in declarations, injunctive reliefs and damages. In response to the originating summons, the defendants filed a notice of preliminary objection, challenging the competence of the suit and the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the action of the plaintiffs.

The preliminary objection was heard and upheld by the trial court on the ground that the originating summons did not contain questions for determination. The appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed as lacking in merit, whereupon the plaintiffs further appealed to the Supreme Court. The apex court wasted no time in chastising the trial court and the Court of Appeal, for clinging to technicality to rob the plaintiffs of justice.

The court held as follows: “There is need to keep the focus on the substantiality of justice and so each of these forms is valid as an originating summons for the determination of any question of right or of construction under an enactment.

“Justice does not reside in the form of the processes of the court. Where there are sufficient provisions in the rules of the court to sustain an action, the rules of natural justice demand that parties should be heard with a view to resolving their dispute once and for all. It is in the interest of justice that parties are not shut out prematurely from being heard in accordance with the laid down procedures in the court’s rules.”

The danger that society and the justice sector face, in the adherence to strict technical rules, is best demonstrated by a thorough analysis of the tortuous journey and checkered history of this case. The case commenced in 2009, at the Federal High Court and the final judgment of the Supreme Court was delivered 7th February, 2020, spanning a long period of about eleven painful years of several court appearances, travelling and financial expenses.

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At the time of the judgment of the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs could no longer get justice from the courts, as the interim board of Union Bank that was being challenged had served out its tenure and new boards had taken over almost in multiple tenures.

This is the lot of most litigants such that even this case should be considered as having moved fast, if we take into cognizance the facts of other cases commenced in court at the same time. The Supreme Court did not spare the two courts below: “There was no basis for the conclusion of the two courts below that the originating summons of the appellants was bad and must be struck out for not stating questions for determination.

For effect, it was certain that the two courts below went the wrong way in reaching their conclusion and a miscarriage of justice ensued in the erroneous application of the procedural law or rules, hence the necessity for the Supreme Court’s intervention and to come against concurrent findings of fact of two courts.”Happily, the apex court took out time to define the role of the judiciary, in very clear terms: “The paramount duty of courts is to do substantial justice and not cling to technicalities that will defeat the ends of justice. It is more in the interest of justice that parties are afforded reasonable opportunity for their rights to be investigated and determined on merit rather than that parties be shut out prematurely from being heard on the grounds of non-substantial compliance with rules of court. It is immaterial that there are technicalities arising from statutory provisions, or technicalities inherent in rules of court.

So long as the law or rule has been substantially complied with and the object of the provisions of the statute or rule is not defeated, and failure to comply fully has not occasioned a miscarriage of justice, the proceedings will not be nullified.”

Generally speaking, the judiciary is established under section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

The Constitution proceeds to state the function of the judiciary as to “extend to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any person in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any questions as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.”

In reality therefore, the judicial powers as conferred upon the courts relate to adjudication and determination of disputes. This power is traceable to the period of creation, when the first man (Adam) was put to trial in the Garden of Eden. God drafted the charges, served them on him and took his defences thereto and thereafter judgment was passed.

However, judicial power was properly codified when the father-in-law of Moses visited him and advised him to set up several courts for the resolution of all contentious issues, depending on their magnitude. Man has followed this pattern ever since, leading to the trial, condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus by the Jews.

The judiciary became more entrenched as part of the foundation of the creation of Nigeria, due to the Sir Henry Willink Commission of Inquiry report, detailing the means of addressing the fears expressed by the minority ethnic groups, post-independence.

Assuredly, there will always be one dispute or another, in any human endeavor or existence. With their over-bloated population and size, the majority ethnic groups could always boast of electoral victory to form the cabinet and also the majority in the parliament, any day, through which they would continue to dominate the minority groups. It was then resolved to establish a strong judicial system, capable of intervening in any dispute between persons and persons, persons and governments or indeed any other authority.

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This partly accounts for the reason why the judiciary was established as an independent and autonomous arm of government, to be strong enough to look anyone in the eye, to be strong enough to damn oppressive policies and strike down all manner of injustice. This worked well for some time, until the military emerged with absolute powers and decrees, through which the powers of the courts were circumscribed and at times suspended, outright.

But even under the military, the judiciary remained the only arm of government that could not be dissolved totally, unlike the parliament and the executive. No government has been so brutish and damning, as to sack the courts outright; we have never had it so bad and we pray not to ever have such malady, in our time.

The cases of self-imposed timidity, as experienced in some courts across the land, are to say the least, most unfortunate. My Lords must be encouraged to stand tall and show courage, in the face of intimidation and mindless blackmail by the powers that be. This is not new at all, given that the executive arm of government is always at war with the judiciary, the former being always at the receiving end of court decisions.

Impunity being always at the door step of governors, commissioners, ministers, government ministries, parastatals and agencies, it is not strange at all that they are most often the culprits.

The judiciary must save itself from extinction and historical irrelevance; it must assert itself as the last hope of the common man, by ensuring that it digs very deep into each case presented before the court in order to give justice to those who deserve it. The incapacity of the court to do justice to the real issues before it goes back to the society itself, as litigants are then forced to embrace self-help, has made law enforcement agencies become dispute resolution merchants and thus arbitrariness has set in.

The solution to this is to merge all objections together with the hearing of the substantive suit and to incorporate all interlocutory appeals into the main case, such that the determination of the court can be made known on both in a single judgment, rather than pursue common issues of amendment or injunction up to the Supreme Court whilst the main case is guillotined thereby, on the altar of technicality.

We cannot afford in our clime, to exhume the corpse of Blackstone and cling to the stone-age practice of forms rather than the substance. We cannot continue to run a court system that delivers empty papers to the people as judgment, the contents of which do not birth any form of justice at all.

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CDHR , #ENDSARS Group Disown Call For #ENDSARS Protest Against Alleged Police Extortion In Delta State

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CDHR , #ENDSARS Group Disown Call For #ENDSARS Protest Against Alleged Police Extortion In Delta State

The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and #ENDSARS Group  have dissociated themselves from a press statement tagged: “ANOTHER #ENDSARS PROTEST LOOMS.”

The CDHR and #ENDSARS group said that in the press statement, “the author issued a threat notice to the Delta State police command under the able leadership of the Commissioner of Police (CP) Ari Mohammed Ali to the effect that he and his group will mobilize massive #ENDSARS protest against the police command for the increasing rate of extortion by officers and men in some of the police divisions in the state.”

The CDHR and the #ENDSARS group denied any involvement in the planned action.

In the statement made available to the press by Comrade A. P. Edariese of the CDHR and Israel O. Joe of #ENDSARS in Warri, Delta State, said: “CDHR and the #ENDSARS hereby disown and disclaim the alleged action as the handiwork of a disgruntled element in the society who did not mean well for the #ENDSARS group, the police authorities in Delta State, the general public and the CDHR as a noble organization in Nigeria.

The author and whatever group he represents can best be described as mere adventurous tricksters who want to use the names of CDHR and the #ENDSARS to achieve an evil agenda against the Delta State Police Command in Delta State in the face of the good work the CP and his men have been doing that has brought relative peace to the state in recent time to give a dog a bad name to kill it. At the same time, the author intends to create bad blood between police and the CDHR and the #ENDSARS group so that the police will regard each of the two groups as bitter enemies of theirs. But the interest the author wishes to serve is that of suspects, Yahoo boys, who are often arrested by the police who he, the author, often strives to protect and eventually extorts money from to oil his dubious and extravagant lifestyle and if the police do not allow him to have his way, he blackmails the DPO in such a division and his officers as extortionists whose heads and that of the CP must be sacrificed.

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For the avoidance of doubt, there is only one CDHR in Nigeria with its Head Office at No. 43, Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, duly registered under the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja, Nigeria. It’s under the leadership of a legal giant in Nigeria, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, a two-time Attorney General of Edo State as its current National President with other great men who have made their marks in their various areas of human endeavour as members of the National Executive Committee (NEC).

The organization has a formidable and vibrant branch in Delta State with its office at the famous Isoken Plaza, No. 3, Warri/Effurun Road, Enerhen Junction, Enerhen, Uvwie Local Government Area, Delta State of Nigeria under the able Chairmanship of Comrade Elder (Chief) A. P. Edariese, a banker of repute and a human mobilizer and manager with an array of great men and women who include lawyers, accountants, technocrats and businessmen and women who have achieved great strides in their chosen careers in different fields in life as members of the Branch Coordinating Council (BCC).

“The CDHR also has an organizational structure with a Board of Trustees (BOT) at the helm of affairs with a legal luminary, Femi Falana (SAN) as its Chairman, with others such as Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, a two-time Attorney General of Edo State, a great scholar, Prof. Lucky Akaruese of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Gbenga Awosode Esq., Mr. Debo Adeniran and Malachy Ugwummadu Esq. as members.”

READ ALSO: CDHR Disowns Event Notice In Delta

The CDHR and the #ENDSARS group also called on the commissioner of police and the Police Management Team in Delta State to “urgently take steps to tackle the incessant cases of police extortions, victimizations, brutality and unnecessary raiding of homes of innocent citizens with a view to arm-twisting them into parting with their hard-earned money in the name of bail from detention on purious allegations by some overzealous officers whose work is capable of bringing the name and image of the Police Force in Delta State to disrepute.”

 

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Terror Group ISWAP Massively Recruiting Nigerians – Army

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Terror Group ISWAP Massively Recruiting Nigerians - Army

Having suffered a huge loss of its members to military’s onslaught, terror group Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) has begun a massive recruitment of young Nigerians.

The Director, Army Public Relations,Brig. Gen. Onyeama Nwachukwu, disclosed this at the headquarters of the Theatre Command, Operation Hadin Kai Maimalari, during a tour in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Sunday.

Nwachukwu wants members of the public to be on the lookout within their immediate environment, adding that it was very important to engage media organizations to block ISWAP’s recruitment.

The army spokesperson also revealed that the Boko Haram insurgents had been surrendering.

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Nwachukwu said: “I will like to mention that the ISWAP, very recently, has been depleted by the surrendering of their members, as well as a conflict between them. They’ve embarked on what I will call a massive recruitment drive and I consider it very important to engage the media to block this recruitment.

“The Boko Haram insurgents have been surrendering. People have questioned the authenticity of the surrendering of these insurgents and why they’re surrendering at this time.

“There are also questions on the reintegration of these insurgents.That is the essence of this tour.”

 

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‘How Doctors Shabbily Treated Mailafia While Dying’

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'How Doctors Shabbily Treated Mailafia While Dying'

Fresh details have emerged concerning the circumstances of the death of the former Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor Dr.Obadiah Mailafia.

The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) particularly exposed the shabby treatment the former presidential candidate was subjected to by doctors while he was dying.

In a statement on Sunday by the National Publicity Secretary of MBF, Dr.Isuwa Dogo, the group extolled the patriotism of Mailafia that he expressed through his quest for justice and peace.

The statement read: “The death of the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada, Abuja, this morning came to us as a great shock. As someone who relentlessly participated in the activities of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), his untimely death has dealt a deadly blow on ethnic nationalities of not only the Middle Belt but the country at large.

READ ALSO: Dr. Obadiah Mailafia And The Nigerian Story Of Leadership Failure

“Arising from various enquiries from Nigerians over the circumstances of his death, the Forum wishes to state as follows: That Dr Mailafia arrived Abuja last Sunday September 12, 2021 from Akure and was received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by his wife.

“On arrival at home, the wife noticed he was not in the best of health conditions and seemed to be suffering from malaria. After three days of treatment without signs of improvement, he went to the CBN Hospital on Friday September 17, 2021 where he was shabily treated. It took the intervention of a senior medic who immediately placed him on oxygen and admitted him.

“Dr Mailafia’s was later given the option of choosing three hospitals: Gwagwalada Hospital, National Hospital and EHA Clinics. The wife opted for the third choice. On arrival at the EHA Clinics, the wife was subjected to yet another moment of anxiety as it took a direct order from the top management of the hospital to accept him.

“After few hours of treatment, the EHA Clinics told the wife that it was expedient to transfer the former CBN Deputy Governor to Gwagwalada as the clinic was not fully equipped to handle the case.

“The wife opposed the decision and insisted that she was opposed to the idea of taking her husband to Gwagwalada. Mailafia’s wife only succumbed when the consultant assured her that nothing bad will happen to her husband.

“Yesterday, Saturday September 18, 2021, Dr Obadiah was transfered to Gwagwalada. on arrival, the name of the doctor that was billed to attend to Dr Mailafia was not on duty. Even when an attempt was made by foreign health consultants to save the situation, the doctor on duty got angry and said he was not obligated to listen to any foreign consultants that had been brought into the matter with the sole purpose of ensuring nothing goes wrong.

“Wife of the former CBN Deputy Governor was asked to pay the sum of N600’000 as deposit even when it was a referral case, with accruing medical bill to be settled by the CBN. At a point, Dr Mailafia complained over his breathing problems and pleaded with the doctors to place him in a ventilator. The doctors flatly refused.

Even after the doctors declared Dr. Mailafia dead, foreign consultants who were brought into the matter through Dr Mailafia’s son that is living abroad, had directed a family member who is a medical professional, with the wife of the CBN Deputy Governor, to mount pressure on the chest of Dr. Mailafia for resuscitation and thereafter place him on a life support.

“The doctors in Gwagwalada refused all entreaties by the family members of Dr Mailafia to follow the advice of the foreign consultants, insisting that they have already pronounced him dead. Even when the wife could feel the pulse of her husband, the doctor flatly declared there was nothing they could do since they had already pronounced him dead.

“While the above narration sums up the circumstances under which Dr Mailafia died, we still await the result of the actual cause of his death. As a nationalist and patriot that he was, Dr. Mailafia was completely dedicated to the emancipation of ethnic nationalities from the clutches of oppression. The economist was never afraid to speak truth to power just as he remained committed to the enthronement of justice and equity to all citizens across ethnic and religious divides.

READ ALSO: The Power Of Positive Difference: Dr. Obadiah Mailafia And His Nigeria

“In the twilight of his life, this consummate technocrat and global scholar of repute beamed his searchlight on the raging insecurity ravaging our country. He expressed regrets over government’s incapacity to rein in the activities of insurgents and criminal groups terrorising the nation.

“As a former presidential candidate in the 2019 poll, Dr Mailafia sought to deploy politics to bring about the dream he had for his country. Even after he lost the election, he never let down the bar in demanding for a fair treatment for all Nigerians.

“The Forum recalls his patriotic zeal in standing up for truth and justice. He was never a letdown in being at the forefront of showing the way for national greatness as he was willing to lay down his life for Nigeria.

“The Forum is inspired by his altruistic disposition and contributions to national development. We remain proud of his footprints on the political, economic and social sands of our nation.

“In this period of grief, we extend our sympathy to his immediate family members and pray to the Almighty God to grant each and everyone of them the fortitude to bear the pain of this irreparable loss.

The death of Dr Mailafia today represents a dark day for not only the Middle Belt but also for all citizens who yearn for a new dawn for justice in Nigeria.”

 

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