By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, yesterday said the judiciary was determined to purge itself by weeding out corrupt and indolent judges.
The CJN, who stated this while flagging-off 2016 annual judges conference of the Federal High Court in Abuja, said it was regrettable that the judiciary was perceived as compromised, due to the misconduct of a minute minority on the bench.
He said: ‘’Such acts of misconduct rub off on the rest of us and creates the impression that all judicial officers have their hands soiled with the proceeds of corruption.
“That is why the independence of the judiciary must remain unquestionable, if we are to retain the trust and confidence of the people of Nigeria.
“We must arrive to be apolitical, neutral and most importantly independent in matters that pertain to the business of the court.
“We must shun the lure of corruption and the temptation to adjudicate on narrow perceived grounds, which may offend even our own rules of court.
‘’Similarly, we must ensure that unnecessary delay is not countenanced nor permitted within our Courts.
“No doubt, where we dispense justice promptly, properly and transparently, in active collaboration with all stakeholders in the administration of justice, then the reputation of our courts within the public sphere will be enhanced.
“On the contrary, no greater harm is done to the judicature than when it becomes accused of the very vices that it seeks to eliminate in our society.’’
Besides, the CJN noted that some judges had been flouting laid down provisions in the 2009 Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules which stipulate that a case may only be heard where the cause of action arose.
“In reality, the deviant departure from established norms by certain judges is increasing. This situation not only portrays the justice system as being a confused institution, but at worst, we are looked upon as mortally bankrupt.
“We cannot create a quagmire of uncertainty and expect all right thinking members of the Nigerian judiciary and, indeed, all Nigerians to remain silent.
‘’When we create confusion in our jurisprudence, then it would be impossible for the courts to convince people that it is not befuddled.”
The CJN reiterated that the National Judicial Council, NJC, would decisively deal with Federal High Court Judges involved in delivery of conflicting judgments
In his opening remarks, the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, said the 32nd judges conference would afford the court the opportunity to appraise itself.
“It has been the practice in the FHC from inception for Judges to meet annually to appraise the activities of the previous year, with a view to finding solutions to identified problems.
“In the process of finding solutions to identified problems, honourable Judges freely correct and apportion blame to their erring brother judges before they finally resolve to improve on their performance in the previous year,” Auta stated.
Currently, there are 80 judges on the Federal High Court bench.