Appellate courts not holiday resorts, CJN tells new justices

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has advised 12 judges elevated to the Court of Appeal Court not to see the appellate court as a holiday resort.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen,

The CJN gave the advice on Friday in Abuja, after swearing-in the new justices.

The 12 justices were among the 28 new judges approved on June 12 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) upon receipt of the approval of the president, had fixed June 22 for their swearing-in.

The justices are: P. A. Mahmud, F. O. Ojo, I. A. Andenyangsto, G. O. Kolawole, B. B. Aliyu, and Ebiowei Tobi.

The others are: J. G. Abundaga, A. S. Umar, A. M. Talba, A. M. Bayer, A. M. Lamido, and M. B. Idris.

Walter said the judicial officers should see the elevation as a rather greater call for judicial service delivery.

He said the Court of Appeal had now been enriched by more hands, adding that the new entrants should use the positions to enrich the country’s jurisprudence.

“You should see your promotions not as a holiday but a call for more work.

“You are no longer strangers to the oath of office and oath of allegiance that you have taken.

“You must therefore truly be seen to abide by the Constitution and the Code of Conduct as well as the oaths you have sworn to.

“You are also expected to be guided by judicial precedence. It is when you follow judicial precedence that you would not invite trouble to yourselves’’, the CJN said.

He further said: “if you adhere to that principle, you will be home and dry. The system would be there to protect you,’’ Onnoghen said.

On professional dress code, the CJN said the NJC would continue to abhor attempts at diluting the approved standard dress code for lawyers.

According to him, judges and senior lawyers must serve as examples by appearing well and neat when in courts.

On financial autonomy of the judiciary at the state level, Onnoghen said the law had granted the institution such autonomy, adding that it was not new.

He, however, said that the constitutional provision must be obeyed for the autonomy to have any meaning.

“I therefore urge state governments to take steps to abide by the law by allowing judiciary in states to enjoy financial autonomy in line with the constitutional provision’’, he said

On the forthcoming general election, the CJN urged judicial officers to be circumspect, saying that they should not allow themselves to be used by some desperate politicians.

“It does not matter if one wins and the other loses. Remember that two persons cannot win a position. The judiciary must work to be firm and unbiased in this regard.

The remaining nine judges approved for the Federal High Court and seven for FCT High Court would take their oaths on June 25 and June 26 respectively. (NAN)

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