From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has admonished judges across the country not to engage in acts that could tarnish their reputations.
The CJN, who spoke on Monday at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Refresher Course for Judges and Kadis, organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI), stressed that the behavior of Nigerian judges are closely scrutinised at home and abroad.
‘My Lords, as we are all aware good governance is synonymous with respect for the rule of law. Its principles also advocate the independence of the judiciary, the doctrine of separation of powers, guarantee of fundamental rights, freedom of expression epitomised by free press and media as well as free and fair elections,’ the CJN stated in his remarks.
‘Good governance in itself is nothing if the implication of the fundamental principles enshrined in the constitution of this nation cannot be readily determined in constitutional adjudication by a judiciary manned by upright judicial officers.
‘This is premised on the fact that as society depends on justice, those who are singularly advantaged to do justice to all manner of persons must ensure that they themselves are standing erect, far away from all manners of injustice.
‘One way of achieving that, My Lords, is to take cognisance of our errors, if any, in order to avoid them.
‘It is very clear, My Lords, that judicial ethics is as old as the emergence of civilized society and the art of judging as recognised by God Almighty is replicated from scriptural references in the two major religious of the world, Christianity and Islam.
‘As such, judges should abstain from what could tarnish their good image or tamper with their reputation or religion.
‘The integrity of the judiciary is indeed essential in a system of government such as ours in which the judiciary functions Independently.
‘The behaviour of judges is, in the circumstance, closely scrutinised at home and abroad, to guarantee continued confidence in the integrity of the courts.
‘I must not fair to note, however, that the combination of power, responsibility and humanity accounts for both the most exemplary (and sometimes, the most unfortunately, regrettable) judicial conduct.
‘To this end, judges must exercise decorum in all their undertakings.’
In her welcome address, Nji Administrator Justice RPI Bozimo said the refresher course aims at keeping judges abreast with global best practices in adjudication and court administration.
She said the theme of this year’s course, “The Role of the Judiciary in Promoting Good Governance in Nigeria”, was apt and topical, noting that democracy ‘thrives upon strict adherence to the Rule of Law, speedy dispensation of justice and fair conduct of cases.’
According to Justice Bozimo, ‘with regard to the current national discourse, bordering on fighting corruption ensuring transparency and promoting accountability; it is very important, my Lords, that citizens should enjoy easy access to the courts, as that will enable them to have their grievances, not only ventilated but also adjudicated upon.
‘As you all aware, a sound, vibrant and independent judiciary manned by upright judicial officers is critical to a nation’s economic vitality and democratic growth,’ the NJI administrator added.