Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has charged lawyers in Nigeria to always ensure strict adherence to the rule of law as a way of sustaining the country’s democracy.
Justice Tsoho made the call while playing host to a delegation of the Abuja Chapter of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) led by its Chairperson, Ms Hauwa Shekaru.
While assuring them of his cooperation, the Chief Judge urged them to vigorously pursue cases of human rights abuses to ensure that the rights of citizens are well protected.
He vowed to support the laudable projects of Unity Bar and to carry its members along in terms of appointments.
According to a statement by the Publicity Secretary of the Abuja Chapter of the NBA, Ikemefuna Onyeka, Justice Tsoho noted that ‘the Bar is the primary constituency of every judge; we should endeavour to cooperate with each other to attain a common goal, adding that the common goal is to ensure that the rule of law is enhanced and entrenched.
‘Lawyers have generally been recognised as trailblazers when it comes to advancing issues of rights-related issues and should not relent in the pursuit of that objective.’
The Chief Judge, however, lamented that ‘in recent times, that responsibility has not really been pursued vigorously in our country sensibly because we have divided interests among the body of lawyers.
‘As stakeholders in the temple of justice, there should always be robust cooperation and maintenance of active consultation on issues of common interest on things that generally affect us as members and as a legal community.
‘I believe that we will continue to interact more closely and I assure you of our cooperation.’
Earlier, the leader of the five-member delegation of the NBA, Ms Shekaru, said the courtesy visit was to introduce the newly-inaugurated executive officers of the association and also have an opportunity to have robust engagement with the Chief Judge of the Court.
In addition, she said the visit is to also to see how they can work closely for the enthronement of the rule of law in Nigeria as well as the smooth running of the judicial sector in Nigeria, particularly with reference to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Ms Shekaru also stated that topmost on the EXCO’s agenda is a robust engagement between the Bar and the Bench.
‘There are certain issues that happen within the polity that the Court may not really have the opportunity to speak for itself. For that reason, the Bar is most adequately positioned to speak on behalf of the bench particularly when we see things going wrong.’
The Chairman further stated that the Bar cannot be silent when the altar of justice is desecrated, saying: ‘We swore an oath the day we were sworn in to respect the rule of law and respect the constitution of Nigeria and that of the NBA. And for that reason, my EXCO have the mandate of the NBA to go ahead and ensure that anytime the rule of law is desecrated we speak up and we intend to do that without fear or favor.
‘We intend to continue to speak true to power because it is only when we do that that we can strengthen and encourage the democratic process in our country. And it is only then that we can be able to strengthen the rule of law and even though we are at the bar, we have what it takes to be able to work to protect the judicial arm of government which we are major stakeholders of.’
She also requested that active consultation be resuscitated especially when it has to do with appointments of judicial officers or other positions as this will show that we are partners in the temple of justice and be able to ensure that there is a smooth working relationship between the Bar and the Bench.
The Chairman concluded by stating that the NBA is a major stakeholder that should be given their pride of place in activities that affect the Federal High Court. She also made a passionate appeal for support from the Chief Judge in the building of the Bar Centre.