Thursday, 3 December 2015

Don’t Allow Politicians Use You As Pawns, CJN Tells New Judges

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, yesterday, warned judges not to allow politicians use them as pawns.

Justice Mohammed gave the warning while swearing-in 30 new judges of the Federal High Court.

While administering oaths on the judges, who  were recently elevated to the high court bench by President Muhammadu Buhari, the CJN warned them not to allow themselves “to be used as pawns by our various politicians in their quest for power.”

The CJN maintained that the current situation in the country has made the role of the judiciary as a neutral and impartial arbiter more crucial.

He enjoined the new judges to always uphold the oaths they took, yesterday, to serve with dedication, fairness, and in a manner that is faithful to the constitution and the law of the land

He said: “It is also a solemn covenant to the Almighty that you will perform your duty with all due diligence and honesty. As such, you must strive not to betray these oaths as this will also mean a betrayal of the trust of those who screened, interviewed and recommended you before your eventual appointment.

“It will indeed be a betrayal of the trust of Nigerians who have reposed in you the power of judgement as the representatives of God on earth.

“Your lordships must, therefore, take the proverbial bull by the horns and pull the plough within your courts so that we cultivate a highly professional, incorruptible and effective justice delivery system.

“This we can only do, when we dispense justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

“We must be seen to do justice though the heaven may fall and I assure your lordships that the heavens will surely not fall.”

Judicial corruption

Besides, the CJN, while acknowledging need for the judiciary to sanitize itself in view of the mounting allegations of corruption, urged anyone with concrete evidence against any judge to feel free to approach the National Judicial Council, NJC.

“I wish to address the vexed issue of judicial corruption. This is because allegations about corrupt judicial officers and staff now make headline news on a more frequent basis. With each allegation that passes, the need is ever present for the judiciary to address this issue and I feel it necessary to once again do so.

“Although I will not hide away from the reality that some judges and judicial staff may be complicit in corrupt practices, however, I must assert that corruption within the judiciary is only  imbibed by a minute minority.

“I believe that the Nigerian judiciary is comprised largely of judicial officers who are hardworking, dedicated, ethically minded, learned, patriotic and possess the highest standards of morals.

“The Nigerian judiciary is one of the hardest working Judiciaries in  the world, despite the paucity of funds and the lack of adequate welfare provisions for its personnel.

“Nevertheless, I must accept the need for the judiciary to sanitize itself where allegations are made. However, as the saying goes- he who alleges must prove. This will indeed be done where the accusers themselves avail us of the particulars of these incidences of judicial corruption as well as the identity of the perpetrators, so that the NJC can act promptly and appropriately to remove such deviants from the bench.”

He said that the new judges were throughly scrutinised by various legal bodies and the Department of State  Service, DSS, before they were selected, saying over 2000 applicants were whittled down to 128 shortlisted persons who stood for interviews at the Federal Judicial Service Commission in June 2015.