By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday, implored judges across the federation to ensure that political cases are determined on merit.
He said National Judicial Council, NJC, would not hesitate to sanction any judge found to have engaged in any form of judicial malfeasance.
The CJN, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 34th Annual Conference of Judges of the Federal High Court, said he has okayed a proposal for a collaborative workshop between National Judicial Institute, NJI, and Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for judges handling pre and post election matters.
He urged high court judges to use the conference as a platform to cross fertilise ideas and strategise on how to enhance the administration of justice in the country.
He said:“My lords, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, section 251 of the 1999 constitution as amended, among others, has placed upon you, much more responsibility bordering on interpretation and enforcement, which is in conformity with rules of court and practice direction, issued by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, to address the challenge.
“But this duty, no doubt, imposes on you, a lot of obligations and conscious effort. You should at all times be prepared to perform this role expeditiously and with minimum cost to the litigants.
“My brother judges, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are all aware of the increased tempo of political activities as we approach the election year. Our nascent democracy has to be nurtured and consolidated.
“We are working assiduously to ensure that we clean our house and completely dump the unfortunate toga of corruption that has plagued the judiciary for sometime. With your cooperation and commitment, we shall once again steer this nation to the path of transparency and good governance.
“I am confident that your efforts in line with the rule of law will stamp out corruption and enthrone an enviable democracy, characterized by justice, equity, transparency and good governance.
“My lords, as the election year draws closer, your courts will be flooded with litigations bordering on pre and post election matters requiring adjudication. No doubt, election litigation is an inevitable part of our electoral process.
“While INEC has the responsibility to conduct and manage elections, the judiciary on its part is charged with the responsibility of resolving disputes arising from the process. We must therefore ensure that matters brought before our courts are determined on their merit, devoid of any external interference to ensure the sustenance of the independence of the judiciary.”