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CJN wants higher pay for judges, warns lawyers against misconduct

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has called for an increased salary for judges to enable them to discharge their constitutional duties creditably.

He spoke in Abuja at the special court session marking the official commencement of the Supreme Court’s 2020/2021 legal year and the inauguration of 72 new Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

The CJN, who was represented by the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, also warned against disrespect of court orders.

He said, “The welfare of judicial officers is another critical issue that we can’t afford to sweep under the carpet. The paltry sum of money being collected as monthly salaries is an issue that needs urgent redress.

“The annual budget has been on a steady decline; and that has adversely affected the state of infrastructure in our courts.”

The Chief Justice warned against professional misconduct by lawyers, saying that they could be sanctioned.

He said, “Obedience of lawful court orders has no alternative in any sane society. A threat to this is simply a call for anarchy. I believe strongly that there is no right thinking citizen of this country, who will tread that path of infamy.

“We must respect and duly observe all the tenets of an enduring democracy. Nigeria is not a lawless society and no one, irrespective of his or her status, should turn it into one.

“Most times, some persons who, by sheer stroke of providence, find themselves in position of authority, flagrantly disobey lawful court orders, and even make a boast of it.

“Such acts will henceforth not be condoned. In fact, they will be met with severe consequences. We must extinguish such raging fire before it consumes us. Some people have now found pleasure in invading courtrooms and even assaulting judges.

“The correctional centres are not there for decoration, such literally incorrigible and obstinate elements in our midst must be tutored in those centres to deter the several others eagerly waiting in the queue to embark on such inglorious expedition. The court will not only bark but will bite harder and deeper too.

Justice Muhammad, who described this year as an unusual year, particularly with the disruptive effective of the coronavirus, noted that the Supreme Court did not do badly.

He noted that 908 cases, comprising of motions and appeals were filed in the court during the last legal year, out of which it heard 497 civil cases, 168 criminal case and 35 political, totaling 700 motions.

“In the same vein, the court considered a total number of 208 appeals, being 134 civil, 52 criminal and 22 political. In all, a total number of 189 judgments were given within the legal year under review,” he said.

The CJN urged lawyers to always observe court rules and conduct themselves as true professionals and with dignity.

“Apart from the mode of dressing, which I have occasionally complained about, the conduct of some of them within and outside the courtrooms calls for serious concern.

“Some have turned the court premises to press interview centres where they cast all manner of aspersions on judicial officers, especially when judgments do not favour them.

“Henceforth, severe sanctions will be meted out on them; therefore, they should always show the ability and capacity to counsel clients well.”

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Everything is the opposite yet Nigeria not a complete disaster – Soyinka

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Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has said Nigerians are still managing to eke out a living despite the bleak realities confronting the country.

Soyinka spoke during an interview with the Cable News Network monitored by our correspondent.

Commenting on the ironic title for his first novel in 48 years, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, he said things happened around one as one grew up, witnessing the degrading of dream and environment in one’s society and on the continent.

He explained that for him, the issue had been an arduous journey, adding, “It has reached such a stage, I found intuitively, that only prose fiction can handle things that have been bubbling up inside me.”

He said the title came after some people some years ago conducted a poll which placed Nigeria among the top four happiest nations in the world.

The playwright noted, “That thing has been with me, in my head. I asked, ‘Who are these people? What do they know? What have they seen? What have they experienced in Nigeria that they make such an attribution?’ That title really has been waiting to answer that claim in many ways. When you look at the surroundings, everything is the opposite and yet, Nigeria is not a complete disaster.

“People still manage to eke out a living not only a living but to some extent a dignified and satisfied living. I think it’s not surface appearance of contentment or making the best of a really bad job, insisting that no matter what life must go on… It’s that which needed to be, quote and unquote, celebrated in addition to the bleak actualities.”

The elder statesman further said he took the decision to change his former relationship if Donald Trump was elected president of the United States despite “being literally an enemy of decency and humanity’’ and his blatantly discontent for non-white humanity.

He stated, “I never really totally turned my back on the United States. I mean how could one? We have many Nigerians there, to start with. When I stroll through the streets of the United States, I sometimes think the United States is an extension of Nigeria, that it’s part of our diaspora.” That’s not an easy decision but it was inevitable.”

Commenting on the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Tanzanian novelist, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Soyinka said his immediate statement after the announcement was “let the African tribe expand wherever situated.”

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Insecurity: Royal Navy Warship arrives in Lagos

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The Royal Navyship, HMS TRENT has arrived Lagos State as part of its three months deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.

The HMS TRENT and her contingent of Royal Marines from 42 Commando are on a three-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.

Port of Lagos is the second stop for HMS TRENT since departing Gibraltar in October.

The Royal Navy War ship was recieved by the United Kingdom, UK, Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, at a reception on Saturday.

According to Llewellyn-Jones: “Nigeria’s security and prosperity matters to the UK. The Royal Navy is here because the UK is a committed partner for Nigeria and the wider West African region.

“We will continue to work with the Nigerian authorities to address illegal activity; improve maritime security; counter-piracy and tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

“To do this we will draw on the experience we have of cross and multi-agency co-operation in the UK to promote peace, development, and prosperity.”

The ship’s company of HMS Trent have a packed schedule of events, including various capability demonstrations and training, with 42 Commando delivering their specific Vessel Boarding, Search and Seizure training to the Nigerian Navy.

In addition, members of the ship’s company will also step ashore with a charity beach clean as well as attending the Maritime Security Conference at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).

Also speaking, HMS Trent’s Commanding Officer, Commander Thomas Knott said: “As Trent made her way to the Gulf of Guinea my crew honed their skills in Maritime Security Operations and commenced Counter Illicit Activity Patrols.

“Piracy, Narcotics and broader criminal activities in this region demand that my Royal Navy Sailors and Royal Marine Commando Force are always ready to respond, from Boarding Operations through to lifesaving assistance at sea.”

Boarding exercises are vital integration training for the newly embarked Royal Marines, who joined at the start of HMS Trent’s patrol of the Gulf of Guinea.

42 Commando will perform a key role as part of the ship’s company of HMS Trent, training partner forces across the region and helping to develop their capabilities.

The three-month deployment will see the ship travel around the Gulf of Guinea, visiting countries including Ghana, Senegal, and Gambia.

Alongside their commitments to conduct joint exercises and train with partners in the region, HMS Trent will also conduct maritime security patrols and promote the UK’s position as co-president at the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea conference in November.

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FG considering posthumous pardon for Ken Saro-Wiwa, others – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government is considering a state pardon for nine Ogoni leaders/activists convicted and hanged by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha 26 years ago for opposing the operating practices of the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corporation.

The Ogoni Nine are author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel and John Kpuine, They were executed  on November 10, 1995.

Buhari gave the hint when he had an audience with some leaders and people of Ogoni land at the State House, according to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

According to the President Buhari, despite the gravity of the circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request to grant them pardon and bring closure to the case.

He said: “Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.

“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories.

“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,’’

President Buhari urged the Ogoni leaders to sensitize indigenes on value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying willful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.

He also noted that the Federal Government is committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.

“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni land and the region more, that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,’’ he said.

The President observed that bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.

He said the government would bring to a close all pending issues on sons of Ogoni land.

 

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