By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, yesterday, said the National Judicial Council, NJC, would start prosecuting judges found to have been involved in any form of corruption.
The CJN, who made, the disclosure while swearing-in five new judges for the Federal Capital Territory High Court, yesterday, said the NJC would not spare any judge for any misconduct.
He said: “No judge is above the law and anyone found to have betrayed his oath office will certainly face the wrath of the law.”
Besides, he warned the new judges to be “wary of nefarious characters who may try to test your integrity as judicial officers.”
The CJN said: “As judicial officers, series of temptations will come your way but the ability to resist them will definitely stand you out and earn you a lasting reputation on the Bench.
“Otherwise, the National Judicial Council, which has the constitutional powers to discipline judicial officers, will not spare any judge for any misconduct.
“An issue which is of great concern to me and one that I am committed to addressing during my tenure, is the delay in the dispensation of justice and the resultant case backlog.
“The sobering reality is that if the number of pending cases continues to grow at their present rate, our children may not be able to initiate and conclude a lawsuit within their lifetime.
“In the light of this, it is a cardinal objective of my tenure as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, NJC, to pursue actively the full adoption and utilisation of Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, processes in the various jurisdictions of our courts.
“I must emphasise the urgent need to place greater emphasis on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Processes.
“The benefits of ADR mechanisms such as Arbitration Mediation and Conciliation cannot be overemphasised. Although you are all aware of these benefits, nonetheless, it bears highlighting that ADR can reduce the time and cost of justice, which simultaneously reduces the burden on litigants and case backlog.
“A practical example of this can be found at the US Federal Courts, where the 2003 Case Load Report states that out of the over 250, 000 cases filed, only 4, 206 or 1.7 percent, were decided through the trial process.
“My Lords, Invited Guests, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, to underline the criticality of the dire case backlog situation and to demonstrate my sincerity of purpose, I have decided that matters disposed of utilising ADR processes will now be counted as part of a Judicial Officer’s Performance in the Performance Evaluation Quarterly Returns to the NJC.”
Meantime, those sworn in as judges were Muawi Yah Baba Idris (Taraba State), Bello Kawu (Gombe), Udukwu Umar (Ebonyi), Ogbonnaya Kezieh Nwamaka (Enugu), and Anietie Okon Ebang (Akwa Ibom).