By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, yesterday gave judges across the federation the nod to adjudicate on cases through online platforms.
The CJN, who spoke at the virtual opening ceremony of the induction course for newly appointed judges and Kadis, organised by the National Judicial Institute, NJI, however, stressed that in adjudicating matters online, judges must pay strict adherence to dictates of the law.
He noted that current international and national discourse bordering on COVID-19 brought lots of activities to its knee and occasioned delay in justice delivery.
Justice Muhammad warned that judges must be in the discharge of their judicial duties, asking them to shun all forms of gratification.
He said: “As judicial officers saddled with the responsibility of adjudicating on matters in the temple of justice, I must not fail to mention that your actions and inactions within and outside the court premises must conform to the dictates of the Code of Conduct for judicial officers.
‘’You are also bound by the provisions of the Code of Conduct for public officers as spelled out in the fifth schedule of the establishment and maintenance of a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business, and to ensure that the actions and behavior of public officers kowtow highest standards of public morality and accountability.
‘’Given the current international and national discourse bordering on COVID-19 that has brought lots of activities to its knee, you may be required at your various jurisdictions to adjudicate on matters through online platforms, while doing this, you must ensure you adhere to all laid down safety guidelines while ensuring that the wheel of justice must not grind to a halt.’’
He said much of the criticism leveled against the judiciary in Nigeria were about “persistent delays in the administration of justice, bias and wrong applications of laws.
“These acts are often not to the delight of litigants and court users as they often frown at the way services are rendered. As such, a better understanding of the current trends in justice administration will help you appraise and curb the waste of judicial time and resources, thereby ensuring that justice delivery is efficient and proactive.”
“Accordingly, while discharging your duties, it is important to note that all forms of gratification must not be associated with you. You must not be found wanting. Transparency, honesty amd accountability must remain your watch word.”
“I urge you therefore to eschew corruption in the discharge of your duties. You must also abreast yourself with relevant laws, maintain judicial authority in the courtroom, develop a simple style of judgement writing and optimize your time and resources”, The CJN added.
He enjoined new judges to endeavour to obtain a good understanding of their operating environment to avoid possible pitfalls and challenges when deciding matters brought before them.
Meanwhile, in her welcome address, the administrator of the NJI, Justice Rosaline Bozimo, retd, said the theme of the induction course, ‘’Inculcating Judicial Excellence in the Newly Appointed Judicial Officers’’, noted that the course was aimed at adequately equipping new judicial officers for the challenges on the higher bench regarding the task of adjudication and other ancillary issues.
The administrator, who reminded the new judges that their appointment is a privileged one, said they must do everything to live above board.
“Let me use this medium to caution you to refrain and spurn all forms of corrupt practices bearing in mind the provisions of the Code of Conduct for judicial officers and the oath of office which you have sworn to.
“It is my firm belief that you will continue to adhere to this admonition. In the same vein, this course will aid you in the proper application of the Code of Conduct for judicial officers in the discharge of your duties; and be assured that the institute will be more than willing to conduct workshops that will aid you in the discharge of your duties,” Justice Bozimo added.