By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The first female Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, has attributed the falling standard of justice delivery in the country to lobbying, favouritism and godfatherism in the appointment of judicial officers.
The ex-CJN, who spoke at the official presentation of a book published in honour of a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, said she was saddened by “the rising culture of lobbying to influence appointments in the judiciary.”
She said the country would be unable to maintain a strong and competent judiciary, if the current process for the appointment of judicial officers was not re-appraised and sanitised.
Justice Mukhtar, who headed the Nigeria judiciary from 2012 to 2014, said: “I will at this juncture re-visit the issue of lobbying, and in addition favouritism and godfatherism in the appointment of Judicial Officers.
“It is sad that we allow the rising culture of lobbying to influence appointments in the judiciary. If we are to revive what held sway in the past i.e maintain a strong and competent judiciary then merit should be the watch word.
“Lobbying, favouritism, and Godfatherism should be discouraged and discarded, as they lead to the fall in standard, and instead of enhancing the institution they devalue and weaken it because of incompetence of the personnel. These practices negate the principle of justice and breeds indiscipline.”
The 66-paged book entitled ‘Honey From The Rock,” was unveiled by the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd) and former Chief of Army Staff/Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd).
The book captured various challenges encountered by Justice Ogunbiyi, who was the first female from North East of Nigeria to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
Earlier, both Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, praised retired Justice Ogunbiyi for her ruling in the ongoing trial of former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh.