By Innocent Anaba
ABUJA â€” Senate President, Chief David Mark, has said the best thing that has ever happened to the judiciary was the setting up of the National Judicial Council, NJC.
Speaking at the commissioning of the NJC office complex within the premises of the Supreme Court in Abuja, Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ikweremadu, who represented the Senate President, stressed the need for judges to be comfortable so that they were not exposed to undue influence.
He said: â€œThe best thing that happened to the judiciary in this country is the setting up of the NJC and the funding of the council through the constitution,â€ adding, however, that more should be done at the state level to improve the welfare of judges.
According to him, â€œa happy judge should not be tempted, that is why we believe that judiciary needs to be properly funded. Judiciary is key to our democracy and everything must be done to make it insulated from outside control and interferences, more so because the judiciary has a lot to contribute. It has to be encouraged to do its job properly.â€
Speaking at the event, the out-going Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi said: â€œIn order to further address the concerns of government and the public outcry over the conduct of some judges, the National Judicial Council fashioned out a new code of conduct for judicial officers in the federation; established judgesâ€™ performance evaluation committee whose reports are based on quarterly returns of cases, and made new guidelines on appointment of judicial officers in the federation.
â€œBetween April 2000 and December 10, 2009, when Council held its inaugural and last meetings respectively, the Council received 531 complaints and petitions against various judicial officers, including heads of court, ranging from Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal. So far, 55 Facts Findingâ€™ Committees comprising members of Council have been set up to investigate all the petitions forwarded,” he said.