By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday said the only way to sustain public confidence in the judiciary was for judges to be proactive by not allowing technicalities to stand in the way of substantive justice.
The CJN, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Gas and Power Sector Reform Workshop for Justices and Judges, stressed that the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, will engender timely disposition of cases before various courts across the federation.
He said there was need for the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility to be embedded in Nigerian laws “so that businesses would thrive with minimal inflow of litigations between host communities and business.”
The theme of the workshop, which had Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts, as participants, was ‘The Judiciary and the Nigerian Gas and Power Sector Recovery Programme: Legal, Commercial and Regulatory Issues.’
Equally in attendance at the workshop was the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, as well as the Minister of Works and Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN.
According to the CJN, with the Gas and Power sectors being among the backbones of Nigeria’s economy, adherence to pristine global best practices regarding the conduct of businesses must be ensured to encourage investments.
He said: “This workshop is specifically designed to expose judicial officers to evolving trends and challenges in the Gas and Power sectors. It is also aimed at offering participants the requisite platform to interact and be enlightened on the on-going reforms in these sectors especially in the areas of legal, commercial and regulatory issues.
“These reforms, among others, include recent efforts by the National Assembly to amend the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.
“In spite of the vintage role Gas and Power play in the economy, certain challenges pose as obstacles. Notable among them are the gaps in the legal and regulatory frameworks as well as the impact of their activities on the environment as well as the socio-economic development of the society.
“My Lords, distinguished participants, in order for these sectors to function optimally, there is a need to build on already existing commercial laws, sound legal architecture and a judiciary that keeps pace with market developments and capacity for speedy delivery of justice.”
In her welcome address, Administrator of National Judicial Institute, NJI, Justice R.P. I. Bozimo, said there was need for legal and policy reforms in the Gas and Power sectors.
She said: “The Gas and Power sectors being strategic sectors of the nation’s economy, remain the lifeblood of the nation and the engine for its growth and sustenance. These sectors are in dire need of modernization in view of advancing technology and the need to address emerging challenges confronting them.”