Constitution Amendment: Judicial Reforms will check Impunity – Ekweremadu
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has assured that the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution would bring about substantial judicial reforms if the amendments proposed by Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution were eventually passed into law.
He gave the assurance at a one-day stakeholders’ symposium organized by the Rule of Law Development Foundation in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Senator Ekweremadu said the Committee's efforts towards judicial reforms was informed by the general desire of Nigerians and the need to deepen the nation's democracy.
He noted that 'with a morally upright and well-reformed judiciary that applies the letters of the law fairly and timely, the systems manipulation, overheating of our polity, reign of impunity in high and low places, the blatant disrespect for the law, and the rape of public treasury would abate considerably.'
Senator Ekweremadu who also chairs the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution listed the separation of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice and separation of the Office of the Attorney-General of the State from that of the Commissioner of Justice of the States, provision for security of Tenure for Attorney -General of the Federation and the State as well as financial autonomy for both offices and the State Judiciary as highpoints of judicial reforms proposed by the Committee.
Other important reforms, according to him, include the conferment of powers to direct investigation of crimes in certain cases on the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Attorney-General of the State, removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and other serving Judicial Officers as members of the Federal Judicial Service Commission to remove conflict of interest, and the removal of Prisons from the exclusive list to the concurrent list.
Senator Ekweremadu was however quick to observe that the challenges facing the Nigerian judiciary could not be addressed only through constitutional reforms.
He said: 'It is not for lack of laws that some anti-corruption and other serious criminal cases involving the high and mighty have remained stagnant.
'Ridiculous ex parte injunctions, endless adjournments, and abhorrent judgments are matters of attitude and compromise that can only be addressed through attitudinal change, ethical rejuvenation, and in-house purification that include sanctions against erring stakeholders within the judicial system.'
Senator Ekweremadu commended the efforts of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Her Lordship, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar towards sanitizing the judiciary, and charged stakeholders and organized bodies within the judicial system to emulate her example by calling their erring members to order.