Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, has said falling standards in the Judiciary can only be addressed if the culture of lobbying and godfatherism used in influencing appointment of judicial officers is discouraged and discarded by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Justice Mukhtar said a competent and strong judiciary can only be achieved by reviving what held sway in the past, where merit was the watchword in making such appointments.
She spoke at the weekend, in Abuja, at a book presentation in honour of a retired female justice of the Supreme Court, Clara Ogunbiyi.
“I will, at this juncture, revisit the issue of lobbying and in addition, favouritism and godfatherism in the appointment of judicial officers. It is sad that we allow the rising culture of lobbying to influence appointments in the judiciary.
“Lobbying, favouritism and godfatherism should be discouraged and discarded, as they lead to the fall in the standard and, instead of enhancing the institution, they devalue and waeken it because of incompetence of the personnel.
“These practices negate the principles of justice and breeds indiscipline. I once read in one of our daily newspapers that lobbying is the norm in the United States of America and since we are operating the American system of democracy, it’s adoption here is in order.
“I disagree because, even if they do so, they consider merit first as the efficiency and the intellectual ability of an appointee is always paramout, as far as the judiciary is concerned.
“We should not think of only what we desire today, but what we will bequeath to the generation yet unborn.”
Justice Mukhtar described the celebrant, who is the first female judge from the North East and the fourth female justice of the Supreme Court as “an epitome of humility.”