By Adewole Kehinde
Today, 13th December, 2020, is exactly a year since the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Hon. Justice (Dr.) Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad swore in Hon. Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, as Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria.
It will be recalled that Justice John Tsoho was on July 26, sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Tanko Muhammad, in an acting capacity.
His appointment followed the retirement of Hon. Justice Adamu Abdu Kafarati , who attained the statutory retirement age of 65 years on the 25th July, 2019.
On 29th October, 2019, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, nominated Justice J.T. Tsoho as the substantive Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
The nomination was contained in a letter from the President, which was read on the floor of the Senate.
On 5th November, 2019, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria confirmed the nomination of Justice John Tsoho as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
The confirmation was sequel to presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Since assumption of office, his cardinal point has been to fight against corruption, especially in the institution that he represents.
He however observed: “the judiciary cannot be singled out when talking about corruption, because corruption exists in every facet, and virtually in every society.”
”So, it might be wrong to give the impression that maybe the corruption that exists in the judiciary is higher than elsewhere.”
Justice Tsoho went on to state that corruption should not be encouraged. According to him, open campaigning doesn’t really solve corruption.
To fight corruption, the CJ said, one must be ready to lead by example.
”First and foremost, you try to lead by example. If for instance, it shows that you are transparent, other people will be encouraged to be transparent too,” he explained.
Justice Tsoho has strengthened the Federal High Court of Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Committee by way of not openly propagating, but genuinely monitoring and advising where necessary.
The CJ, who acknowledged that corruption cannot be eliminated completely, said it can however be controlled and drastically reduced.
Since his assumption of office, he has maintained an open-door policy, by being very accommodating; which attribute of tolerance and openness has engaged the attention of all.
His success in the past one year can be attributed to his leadership style of cooperating with his colleagues. He has extended the hand of fellowship to the Judges, which gesture, they have reciprocated. This cooperation has gone a long way in making the court a pride of place.
Justice Tsoho has ensured that Judges of the Federal High Court uphold the Constitution for the unity of the country and the enhancement of law and order.
He has several times hailed the Judges of the Court for their contributions to promotion of democracy, particularly their efficient handling of election cases.
It will be recalled that at the beginning of the 2019/2020 Legal Year, Justice Tsoho decried the heavy litigation workload handled by Judges of the Court, and disclosed that a total of 116,623 cases were pending in all Judicial Divisions of the Court; 16,144 filed in that quarter, while 12,692 were disposed of.
His persistent efforts towards improved justice delivery have yielded fruits, as more Judges will soon be appointed for the Federal High Court to tackle the high volume of pending cases.
Also, Justice John Tsoho has put in place measures that have improved the welfare of the court staff, thus yielding efficiency.
Justice Tsoho, who hails from Benue State in Nigeria’s North-Central Geo-Political Zone, was sworn- in as Judge of the Federal High Court on November 12, 1998.
Born on June 24, 1959 at Mbaduku in the Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue State, Justice Tsoho, now aged 61, has about four years to retire from public service.
Justice Tsoho attended St. Anthony’s Primary School, Chenge- Mbaduku between 1967 and 1972 and proceeded to Secondary School.
He obtained his West African School Certificate from the Mt. St. Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade, Benue State, which he attended between 1973 and 1977.
For his Advanced Level course coordinated by the Interim Joint Matriculation Board, His Lordship attended the Murtala College of Arts, Science and Technology, Makurdi, between 1978 and 1979.
In 1980, he enrolled at the University of Lagos, Akoka -Lagos, where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws Degree (LL.B Hons) in 1984.
He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985, after attending the Nigerian Law School, Lagos.
On graduation, the then young Mr Tsoho was posted to Delta Palm Limited, Port Harcourt, for his compulsory National Youth Service scheme.
On completion of his Youth Service programme in 1986, he engaged in brief private legal practise before taking up a job in the Benue State Judiciary.
Between January 1986 and December, 1987, Mr Tsoho served as an Inspector of Area Courts.
In January 1988, he was appointed a Magistrate in the Benue State Judiciary. By March 1996, he had risen through the ranks to become a Chief Magistrate.
In between his role as Magistrate, Mr Tsoho served as an arbitrator in a contractual dispute during the period of February 1994 and June 1994.
At various intervals between 1996 and 1997, he served as Acting Chief Registrar. On October 9, 1997, he was appointed substantive Chief Registrar of the Benue State High Court; a position he held until he was sworn-in as a Judge of the Federal High Court on November 12, 1998.
Justice Tsoho is married to Mrs Helen Tsoho, with children and grand children. He enjoys reading, jogging and listening to music.
Adewole Kehinde is the President of Online Reporters Association of Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org