By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA- As the federal government drags more judges to court on corruption related charges, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Monday, decried that the Judiciary was being subjected to “enormous scrutiny”.
The CJN, who spoke at an induction course for newly appointed Judges and Kadis, held at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, in Abuja, said the scrutiny was from both within and outside Nigeria.
Consequently, he urged Judges across the federation to shun all forms of judicial malpractice capable of exposing the Nigerian judiciary to public opprobrium.
The CJN enjoined the newly appointed Judges to acquaint themselves with modern ICT tools, as well as encourage the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, mechanism, especially in the resolution of commercial disputes brought before their courts.
Noting that the new Judges assumed office at a time the Nigerian judiciary is facing turbulence, the CJN, said the onus rests on them to justify the confidence and trust reposed in them by the new positions they occupy.
He said: “The theme for this year’s Induction Course ‘Including Judicial Excellence in the Newly Appointed Judicial Officers’, is indeed germane and of immense relevance as you were appointed at a time when the Judiciary is facing enormous scrutiny from both within and outside.
“You will observe that the world is transmuting at a very high speed, as such the Judiciary cannot afford to be left behind. Therefore, Judicial Officers at all levels (more especially the newly appointed Judges and Kadis) must imbibe positive attitudes and ideas that will enhance the administration of Justice in Nigeria, which will consequently result in Judicial excellence.
“Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism has become more vital especially in resolving commercial disputes.
“One crucial area which poses serious challenges to the administration of criminal justice system in Nigeria, is attributed to delay in court proceedings/trial.
“This is occasioned basically by unnecessary adjournment of cases, non-availability of accused persons/witnesses in court. With the passage of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, these challenges are gradually becoming a thing of the past.
“I therefore implore you all to acquaint yourselves wit the provisions of the Act (ACJA) to enable you keep abreast of current trends in criminal justice administration.
“Let me also use this medium to implore stakeholders at the state level to utilise the ACJA, by adopting it; as this will go a long way in eliminating delays.
“My Lords, distinguished participants, you must hold yourselves to a high and Impeccable moral standards as provided by the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Mastery of the Rules of this code will no doubt preserve the independence and dignity of the Judiciary”, the CJN added.
In her welcome address, the Administrator of the NJI, Justice R.P.I. Bozimo, said the induction course was designed to take the newly appointed Judges and Kadis through the rudiments of Judicial Ethics and Comportment.
“My Lords, at its finest, the judicial office offers its privilege of placing Judicial officers on higher pedestal to sit in adjudication over disputes that are brought by litigants.
“Let me use this medium to caution you to refrain an shun all forms of corrupt practices”.
Meanwhile, among participants at the induction course included nine newly appointed Judges of the Gambia who are in the country to understudy the Nigerian Judicial system.