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Video: CJN’s Definition of ‘Technicality’ Raises Doubt About His Competence

A viral video showing part of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad’s confirmation screening by the Senate has raised widespread concerns about his capabilities.

Nigerians have expressed diverse opinions about the video on social media, especially on Twitter, with majority of them expressing disappointment with the CJN’s performance.

In a copy of the video, which was shared online by Viable Tv, the CJN was asked by the Senate Majority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, to explain if the Supreme Court under his watch would be more concerned with delivering judgments based on the merit of cases or technicalities of such cases.

Abaribe had asked: “In the 2018 case of Akeredolu vs Abraham, the Supreme Court said, ‘technicality in the administration of justice shuts out justice’ and went further to say, ‘it is therefore better to have a case heard and determined on its merit than to leave the court with the shield of victory obtained on mere technicality’.

“This is the Supreme Court, so we are very happy with that. But My Lord, just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court also said, ‘The correct order is to declare the judgment of the trial tribunal a nullity as a result of one of the panellists not sitting on the day proceedings were held’.

“And so Nigerians are really worried. Where would the Supreme Court stand under you? Where would justice be and what we can expect from the Supreme Court under you?”

The CJN, however, failed to say if the apex court under him would ensure that the need to ensure that justice is served would supersede mere technicalities, rather, he chose to define what the word technicality means.

He went ahead to define a technicality as something technical and also compared a technicality with the inability of a judge to effectively fly an aeroplane.

He stated: “Permit me distinguished senators to ask what a technicality is? It is something which is technical. By definition, it is something that is not usual and may sometimes defy all the norms known to a normal thing. Now, we have technicalities in our laws and this is because these laws we have inherited were from the British.

“The British people centuries ago introduced what is known as technicalities in their laws. Now, if something is technical, it is giving a leeway for double interpretation. It may be interpreted in one way by Mr A and another way by Mr B.

“Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field.”

In her reaction, a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, said on Twitter that the CJN’s confirmation hearing has revealed the depth of leadership crisis in the country.

She tweeted: “Do we need to be told that there’s a quality of leadership crisis in our country? It’s across board; the executive, legislature judiciary; federal, state and local.

“That Senate hearing with Justice Tanko merely reminded us of the depth of our leadership crises. Better own our crisis.”

Watch video below:

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