By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday, described the rule of law as an essential element in any democratic society, maintaining that justice could not be effectively delivered when the supremacy of law was not respected.
Justice Onnoghen spoke at a national workshop for Chief Registrars, Deputy Chief Registrars, Directors and Secretaries of Judicial Service Commissions/Committee, held at National Judicial Institute, NJI, in Abuja.
While fielding questions from some of the participants, the CJN said he had on various occasions in the past, harped on the necessity of allowing the rule of law to prevail in the country.
He said: “I have said it repeatedly that we we should let the law prevail in every aspect of our lives. It is only then that justice will flow down.
“When I was sworn in as the acting CJN then, I was asked to make a speech even though I did not prepare for it. On that occasion, I told them, members of the executives were there, including Mr. President. I told them that rule of law must be respected.”
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had in an address he presented at the opening ceremony of the Annual General Conference of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, declared that he would continue to place national security and interest above the rule of law.
President Buhari maintained that individual rights of alleged offenders would not be spared when national security and public interest were threatened.
Meanwhile, the CJN said the workshop was part of measures to reinvigorate the judiciary to be able to administer justice without fear or favour.
He said: “The theme of this workshop, ‘Applying Best Practices in Court Administration’, is deliberate. It captures our efforts in ensuring better justice delivery in Nigeria, which has become imperative especially if justice is viewed within the context of service delivery. It also brings to focus the present challenges in court administration.
“The theme of this workshop underscores the fact that the public perception of the judiciary is largely determined by how we apply best practices in the business of the court.
“Thus, when the top echelons of the judiciary are properly trained, fully equipped and highly conscientious, then our judiciary will function optimally and further deepen public confidence in our ability to administer justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”
In her speech, the Administrator of the NJI, Justice R. P. I. Bozimo, said the judiciary could only mature when it embarks on positive innovation in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities.
“As court administrators, it is important to note that effective court administration requires not only a strong court management team, but also people of exemplary character.
“You must be fair, transparent and diligent in carrying out your duties. You are to ensure your staff respect all court users, be punctual to work and be of good conduct.”