From Romanus Ugwu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Godwin Tsa and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the judiciary to uphold the rule of law, ensure the integrity of participatory democracy and remain impartial arbiters in pre and post-election matters.
He stated this, yesterday, while commissioning the Body of Benchers Complex in Abuja. He said the judiciary would play a critical role in ensuring fairness in the 2023 elections and maintaining the sanctity of the democratic process.
“As the 2023 general elections draw near, the significance of the legal profession becomes even more pronounced considering the vital roles you play in the electioneering process, both at the pre and post-election stages. I hope you maintain the position of an honest arbiter,” he said.
President Buhari said his administration would continue to respect and elevate the rule of law, adding, “adherence to the rule of law is critical to the progress of any society and this administration has not reneged in its commitment to this ideal.”
While congratulating the Body of Benchers, chaired by Chief Wole Olanipekun, on the successful completion of the complex, which began in 2008, he praised the group for effectively keeping the wheel of justice turning by providing a solid foundation for upholding the rule of law, with a proven track record spanning more than five decades.
“I am aware that the Body of Benchers is responsible for the formal Call-to-Bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners as well as ensuring the highest standard of discipline within the profession. I consider this body as critical to the legal profession. I say this, because the membership of the body cuts across all facets of government and the legal profession, particularly, the executive, legislature, judiciary and the bar.”
President Buhari pledged to support improvement in staff welfare of the Judiciary after the ongoing review.
“… I am not unaware of the passion and commitment of Chief Olanipekun in championing the cause of the welfare of judicial officers in Nigeria, as well as the commitment of the Body on this matter. May I restate my commitment towards this ideal. In similar vein, I have been intimated of the engagement of Consultants by the Body, through its Judiciary Advisory Committee, to amongst other things, come up with a peer review of the conditions of service of judicial officers in Nigeria with other countries and jurisdictions, within and outside Africa. I earnestly look forward to the completion of this peer review and the submission of recommendations, as this will assist us to review the welfare packages. A society where justice thrives is one that can be assured of development. For Nigeria to effectively embrace sustainable development, institutions such as the legal profession must remain deeply committed towards promoting good governance,” he said.
•Nigeria must get it right, says CSOs
The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations on Gender Equality, Child Protection, Leadership and Good Governance has said Nigeria must get it right as far as the 2023 elections are concerned.
The group said the people should be allowed to chose their political leaders at all levels freely.
Its National President, Elizabeth Oziri, told Daily Sun: “We have had enough of just the normal ways. We want the people’s voice to be heard. The people should be able to decide who will lead them in 2023. The people should be able to take a decision on who their leaders should be. They should go out and google and search the history of these leaders. They should go and check them through and confirm the stuff they are made of. As far as we are concerned, we have to get it right this time. We are no longer ready to go for vote buying, vote selling and mediocre, people who just come in and help us destroy the nation the more.”
Oziri said as the country moves closer to the 2023 elections, civil society organisations would play major roles such as advocacy, enlightenment of the society about their right to vote and partnering with the government as far as monitoring and observation of elections are concerned.
Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, expressed optimism that things would get better in the country.
Bayero, represented by Maaji Kano, Lamido Umar Yola, said Nigerians wanted positive change in the country and leaders who can stand for their people.