Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher
By Okon Bassey and Adebiyi Adedapo
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, Monday called on judicial officers in the country to adhere to the requisite ethical principles and eschew all forms of corruption, if the judicial system was to be respected.
Musdapher also warned judges against delay in adjudication of matters before them.
The CJN who made the call at the opening of the National Convention and Delegates’ conference of the Magistrates’ Association of Nigeria in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State warned of the implication for the public to lack confidence in the judiciary.
As the bridge between law and society and custodians of the values of the constitution, he said judicial officers must act with the highest standard of care and fulfil judicial role without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.
“I urge all Magistrates to take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance their knowledge, skills and personal qualities, taking advantage of continuing professional programmes and other facilities, to the extent possible,” he said.
Justice Musdapher, who was represented by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Idongesit Ntem-isua, further cautioned that it was unacceptable that matters take an inordinate length of time to be determined.
“As Magistrates, we must not fail to be in charge of our courts despite the antics of some lawyers to delay proceedings,” he stated.
According to him, majority of the State Governors have refused or neglected to give effect to section 121 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“I call on all stakeholders to forge a concerted front to better the conditions of work at the Magistrate Court level so as to make it attractive enough to draw and retain the best minds at our Magistrate Courts. Some of the greatest legal minds that have graced the Supreme Court Bench rose from the Magistrate Bench and undoubtedly it remains a foundry for grooming future Judges of the Supreme Courts. We cannot afford to neglect them,” he said.
Earlier, the National President of the Magistrates’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Bulus N. Nyiputen, said the essence of the national convention was to celebrate the 40 years existence of MAN.
Meanwhile, Musdapher while declaring open a workshop for Judicial Officers on Judicial Ethics, Management Skills and Information technology, in Abuja, said the National Judicial Council (NJC) would establish a monitoring and evaluation unit to promptly take administrative notice of erring judges and forward their names for appropriate disciplinary actions.
He urged them to utilise judicial time by disposing business of the court expeditiously.
The CJN noted that the Judiciary like never before was under intense and sustained public scrutiny, and called on judicial officers to ensure that their activities were unimpeachable.
Speaking on the importance of the workshop, Musdapher said the skills acquired would align the country’s judiciary with the best global practice, thereby urge the NJI to make the training a continuous process.
He commended the leadership of NJI under the Administrator, Justice Umaru Eri (rtd), as he said a Judicial Information Technology Policy Committee had been set up to implement the IT Policy that can replicate in all judiciaries and jurisdictions in the country.
“The Nigerian populace are yearning for a justice system that is simple, fast and efficient, IT has paved the way to further improve judicial administration, within minutes of delivery of court judgments, they would be accessible throughout the world, parties would keep track of their cases by tapping into the courts case management system, a drastic reduction or disappearance of many of the traditional obstructions to an efficient justice system e-filling and e-service,” he said.
Administrator of the NJI, Justice Umaru Eri (rtd), said the challenges of technology and globalisation had combined to make business of adjudication extremely demanding as ever.
He said judicial officers should not only be knowledgeable in law and procedure alone, but with additional knowledge and skills in management and ICT.
He maintained that the adoption of ICT in court activities would drastically reduce traditional obstructions to an efficient justice system.