[Press Release] Frontline Civil Rights Advocacy Group: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has called on the Chairman of the National Judicial Council and the Head of the nation’s Court system Justice Olukayode Ariwoola to investigate allegations of mind-blowing corruption in the proceedings of the Courts of Appeal hearing election related appeals emanating from the election petitions that characterised the 2023 poll.
HURIWA is asking the the Chief Justice of Nigeria to intervene administratively so thr President of the Court of Appeal take transparent and immediate steps to quicken access to justice by political litigants and to decentralise the process of adjudicating the appeals emanating from election petitions from the 2023 General elections so as to dismantle impediments to the dispensation of justice and to open the process to accountability and the constitutional principle of transparency.
Speaking at what it describes as an urgent press conference organized by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), the Rights group said it is deeply concerned about a matter of grave importance that threatens the very foundations of justice and fairness in our beloved nation.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko who addressed reporters in Abuja stated as follows:
“We have received alarming information from highly credible sources within the judiciary, which compels us to bring these critical issues to the attention of the public and the relevant authorities.
●Centralization of Political Cases in the Court of Appeal
Our primary concern is the decision by the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, to centralize the hearing of political cases related to the state house of assembly, national assembly, and governorship elections. This decision has resulted in a significant backlog of cases and created severe inconveniences for litigants and their legal representatives.
The President of the Court of Appeal has directed that all appeals arising from the southern part of the country must be heard in Lagos, while those from the northern part of the country must go to Abuja. While centralization may have been initiated with good intentions, it has caused unnecessary hardships and financial burdens on individuals who have to travel long distances to attend hearings.
●Allegations of Corruption and Pre-Determination of Outcomes
We are deeply troubled by allegations of corruption that have emerged as a result of this centralization. It is alleged that litigants are engaging in financial transactions to secure favorable judgments. Furthermore, there are claims that the President of the Court of Appeal may be involved in determining who sits on particular appeal cases and possibly even pre-determining the outcomes of these cases. HURIWA got series of intelligence concerning these allegations which is why we are publicly calling on the judicial authority to carry out clinical and systematic probe of these range of allegations to ascertain if there is merit in the allegations and to take steps to assure litigants and Nigerians that there is no cause for alarm. This is not by any stretch of imagination a direct allegations against anybody in the Court of Appeal but due to the high profile status of the whistle-blowers who gave us the information, we are therefore asking the head of the nation’s Court system to carry out thorough investigation into the allegations.
These allegations of corruption and interference in the judicial process are not only distressing but pose a significant threat to the integrity and independence of our justice system. The reported sums of money involved are staggering and run into millions of dollars in foreign currency.
●The Plight of the Justices
It is essential to acknowledge that the justices hearing these cases are facing considerable challenges. Many of them have expressed their discontent with the centralized system, as they have little say in the selection of cases and are unable to effect necessary changes. We have heard their concerns about decentralizing the process to bring justice closer to the people.
*Our Call to Action*
The centralization of cases in the Court of Appeal has created serious issues that demand immediate attention and resolution. The inconveniences and additional expenses incurred by litigants are not consistent with the principles of justice, transparency, and accessibility.
HURIWA is calling on the relevant authorities to investigate these allegations of corruption and interference in the judicial process. The integrity and reputation of the Nigerian justice system are at stake, and it is imperative that swift and decisive action is taken to address these concerns.
We also urge the leadership of the Court of Appeal to reconsider the centralized approach and explore alternative methods that ensure proximity to justice delivery for all Nigerians.
In closing, we want to emphasize that the rule of law is the foundation of any just society. If these allegations are not addressed, the very essence of justice in Nigeria may be completely eroded. It is our duty to protect the rights and freedoms of every Nigerian citizen, and we will continue to advocate for a transparent, fair, and accessible justice system.”
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)