By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Tuesday, assured that under his leadership, the judiciary would not subscribe to any plot to change the outcome of elections through the instrumentality of the court.
The CJN who stated this while swearing-in Justice Ishaq Bello as the new Chief Judge, CJ, for the Federal Capital Territory, said he was aware that “some unpatriotic citizens may wish to use the courts to stop the electoral process”.
He said: “Permit me to use this opportunity to again assure all Nigerians that, under my leadership, the Judiciary remains resolute and committed to do its constitutional duty during this election period.
“We will not be swayed or distracted from the course of justice in any election matter that is before or comes before the justice system.
“It bears reminding to all heads of courts that you are primarily responsible for the preservation of our nation’s democracy. I strongly advise all judicial officers not to allow any party or politician to use the courts to truncate our nation’s democracy.
“We are aware that some unpatriotic citizens may wish to use the courts to stop the electoral process and I wish to warn in clear terms that we shall not be used as a tool for the breakdown of law and order in our beloved country”, the CJN added.
Meantime, the CJN, while congratulating the new CJ for the FCT High Court, Justice Bello, used the occasion to lament on the rising number of corruption cases in the country.
According to the CJN, “As your Lordship takes the oath of office and the oath of allegiance, it bears reminding that this oath is not to a man only but is: “A solemn appeal to God”.
“It is therefore to God that you will be ultimately responsible. It is from this oath that your duties and responsibilities spring forth and has a binding effect. It is an ethical undertaking to do Justice as well as uphold the Rule of Law in our Courts.
“As such, my Lord, yours is an especially onerous position, but one which I believe that you are eminently qualified and capable of excelling in.
“My Lord, as you are aware, your immediate predecessor is the first Chief Judge of the FCT to retire and benefit from a valedictory session. I urge you as the incoming Chief Judge to see this as a challenge and aim to serve and retire with honour.
“To re-iterate, yours is a position of utmost responsibility. This means that in all that you are going to do, you are liable to be called upon to account. Full responsibility is an enormous challenge to take on, and it can feel overwhelming. However, I am confident in your ability and desire to excel.
“It is important to emphasize that in leadership, certain indispensible qualities must stand out. Your lordship must be thoughtful, considerate and temperate in judgment. You must be aware that you are now in the dock, as it were.
“As a leader, you are responsible for everything that happens in your Court, and you may, quite rightly, be held accountable for everything that happens, good or bad. I therefore urge you to be thorough and diligent in the administration of the courts, knowing full well that praise or condemnation is largely determined by your conduct.
“I note with particular concern the number of corruption cases that are pending before the FCT High Courts and the number that have been returned by the Supreme Court to the trial courts. It bears reminding that posterity does not wear a human face in its judgment.
“I counsel you to ensure that your work remains like sterling silver that becomes more valuable with age. I therefore urge you to be proactive in seeking out ways to improve justice delivery especially as pertains to the case disposal rate in the FCT High Court of Justice”.
Justice Bello is taking over from the former CJ of the FCT high court, Justice I.M. Bukar, who bowed out of active judicial service yesterday having clocked the 60 years mandatory retirement age.
Earlier, a valedictory session was held in honour of the retiring CJ, Justice Bukar by the FCT high court.