Legal Nigeria

New Legal Year: Arrest, Search Warrant Now To Be Approved By Chief Judges — CJN, Muhammad

By Unini Chioma 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, has announced major changes to the issuance of arrest and search warrants by law enforcement agents.

Recalling the invasion of the official residence of Justice Mary Peter Odili by some persons on October 29 through a purported order granted by a Magistrate, Muhammad said it was an embarrassing attempt to suppress the judiciary.

Speaking on Wednesday at the Supreme Court’s Special Session marking the beginning of 2021/2022 Legal Year/Conferment of the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on 72 awardees, Muhammad said that in other to make the system more accountable, issuance of arrest and search warrant would henceforth be approved by the Chief Judge of either the State or Federal High Courts.

“We are making efforts now to ensure that henceforth, every search or arrest warrant must be issued with the knowledge and approval of the Chief Judge of the respective state/Federal High Court, as the case may be.

“No law permits anyone to invade, subdue any Nigerian citizen in his or her residence with a flimsy, fraudulently obtained search warrant,” he said.

The CJN sounded a note of warning to those enabling lawlessness in the land to have a rethink, adding that the “silence of the judiciary should never be mistaken for stupidity or weakness.”

Muhammad observed that the judiciary achieved successes in 2021 especially in the area of conviction, saying a total of 1143 corrupt suspects were convicted.

Muhammad further said that some laws needed to be amended to make appeal suits end at the Court of Appeal, which according to him, “is competent, dexterous and well-equipped with the right materials and manpower to adjudicate effectively and resourcefully”.

He wondered why Nigerians rush to court because of “little disagreement”.

He particularly called out politicians who, having lost a case, will still insist on going to higher courts.

“In every dispute, only one party must win; and winning could come after intense legal fireworks that is transparent, based on subsisting laws of the land, inhibited legal representations and case conferences.

“It is funny to see a party that won its case today and praised the judiciary lavishly but wasted no moment to condemn and castigate the same Judiciary when a case is lost the next day,” he added.

Regarding the country’s criminal laws, the CJN suggested a total review of it.

“Even with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, I will suggest that our entire criminal laws should be thoroughly appraised and updated so that those antiquated aspects that are no more in tandem with modern trends can be changed,” he said.

While charging the new Senior Advocates, the highest judicial officer in Nigeria reminded them that there was huge responsibility on their shoulders.

“Our young generation of lawyers needs your mentoring and guidance while the court needs your presence and support in lubricating the wheel of Justice,” he said.

The new SANs will get their certificates at a later date, as announced by a court official during the event.