By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
Immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has warned that unless the Supreme Court of Nigeria is adequately funded, the apex Court may soon up a glorified High Court.
The former CJN lamented that justices of the apex court have been suffering in silence since 2008 when their salaries and emoluments were last reviewed by government.
Onnoghen, who spoke in Abuja, at the public presentation of Nigeria’s first book on Construction Law, revealed that some Justices of the apex court still live in rented accomodations in unsuitable areas in the Federal Capital Territory.
Besides poor residential accomodation issue, the former CJN explained that chambers of the Supreme Court justices are unbefitting of their status and appealed that the court be properly funded to enable the justices perform optimally in conducive atmosphere.
He recalled that while in office as CJN, he headed a team comprising Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as well as Solicitor-General of the Federation (SGF) which prepared a new welfare scheme, lamented that since his exit, the Welfare Scheme Report 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 arm of government in nation building.
Maintaining that the Supreme Court is 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, to eliminate congestion in the workload 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 AGF Chief Bayo Ojo SAN 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, SAN, opined that laws on construction industry as brought out in the book would serve as guide to players in the industry, especially in the incessant cases of building collapse.