A cross section of Federal High Court judges during the commencement of the 2020/2021 legal year on Tuesday in Abuja.
By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice John Tsoho has disclosed that the court determined over 8000 cases in the 2019/2020 legal year that has just ended.
Justice Tsoho said in the year under review, a total of 10,464 cases were filed, comprising of 2,851 civil cases, 2,599 criminal cases, 3,049 motions and 1,965 fundamental rights applications.
“The total number of cases disposed of during that year was 8,585 with a total of 123, 513 pending at the end of the legal year,” he said.
The Chief Judge of while speaking on Tuesday at the commencement of the court’s new legal year (2020/2021), in Abuja, said the public criticism that greeted the court in the wake of an order freezing the bank accounts of some corporate institutions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was misguided.
He noted that the court did not freeze bank accounts of #EndSars protesters, but those of corporate bodies under suspicion of money laundering.
The Chief Judge said that those who made such allegations of the court freezing the accounts of #EndSars protesters were being uncharitable to the court.
According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) approached the court seeking an order to freeze certain accounts of corporate bodies and names of individuals were not attached to the applications.
“I assigned those cases and no individual’s name was mentioned.
“Three months before the protest,
the CBN kept bringing applications, almost in their hundreds, based on what they call deliberate resolve to ruin the economy through money laundering.
“So, it is unfortunate for people to begin to call and vilify the court; making damaging allegations against the court,” Tsoho said.
He maintained that if such steps were not taken, the Nigerian economy would have collapsed.
He added that if any of the accounts belonged to any #EndSars protester, it was a mere coincidence.
The chief judge had earlier noted that the legal year now ending, had been very challenging due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that as far as the virus was concerned, the country was not yet out of the woods and urged everyone to continue to take necessary measures to stay safe.
For his part, the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), noted that the judiciary had risen above the challenge of Covid-19 by developing virtual court proceedings.
This, he said was to ensure that the wheel of justice was kept in motion.
Malami who was represented by Mr. Dayo Apata, (SAN), the Solicitor General of the Federation noted the need to maintain the use of ICT, particularly as the country seemed to be experiencing a second wave of the pandemic.
Also speaking, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata, accused the federal high court of dwindling the hopes of the common man by freezing the accounts of individuals and organisations believed to be bankrolling the #EndSars process.
“While the matter remains “sub-judice”, it has put in the front burner the lingering distrust of the masses in the justice process.”
Apata who was represented by Mr Yusuf Kadiri, (SAN) also noted the need to build on the ICT advantage gained as a result of the Corona virus pandemic to speed the adminstration of justice.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria , Mr. Joe Gadzama (SAN), decried the security situation in the county saying that insecurity in many parts of the country was alarming.
He noted that the challenges of the legal year ended, had however, not diminished the court’s resolve to dispense justice as the court had continued to conduct its business as vigorously as ever.