By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Monday, swore-in 18 justices into the Court of Appeal bench, even as he warned them to flee from “juicy and irresistible temptations”.
The CJN said the new appellate court Justices must against all odds, conduct their affairs within the ambit of the law and the oath that was administered on them.
“We are not here for long speeches but simply to realign your minds with what is expected of you at this very high and enviable level of adjudication.
“Many high profile cases would definitely come to you on appeal; and they may likely come in company of some juicy, irresistible temptations, but I am making it clear to you now that you must flee from such disguised danger.
“Your reputation and integrity matter much and count enormously in your rise to honour and fame in life.
“Let me point out unambiguously that in life, gifts and wealth that are not worked for, which are by extension, undeserving, are always wrapped in calamity and destruction.
“Flee from them and keep your heads high above the murky waters of corruption so that you can be conveniently counted among the very best in the Nigerian judiciary.
“If you were hitherto 50 percent under public scrutiny, I can assure you now that it has risen to 100 percent, by virtue of this elevation to the Court of Appeal.
“The tempo and rate of public assessment of your conduct and disposition will now assume astronomical rise”, the CJN stated.
He described the number of justices that were sworn-in on Monday as unprecedented in the recent history of the Court of Appeal.
“The last time we swore-in a large number of 12 Justices was on Monday 5th November, 2012. Today’s ceremony is an indication of the times that we are currently in.
“Several novel crimes are being committed in the country that have now made litigations to go on a steady rise. No court in the land is spared of this.
“We are constantly on our toes and the dockets are ever rising in response to the challenges of the time. This underscores the undisputed fact that Nigeria ranks among the most litigious countries in the world.
“The onus is on you to fasten your belt and roll up your sleeves to face the challenges head-on.
“You must redouble your pace to catch up with the expectations of the litigants. As judicial officers, you have a divine mandate on earth that you must discharge with unveiled honesty and sincerity.
“You must give good account of yourselves to justify your elevation to the Court of Appeal”, the CJN added.