Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has said that the judiciary would not hesitate to show the way out to any support staff who exhibit bad character, perpetuate corruption or act in a like manner.
The CJN, who issued the threat monday in Abuja at the 2016 Refresher Course for Secretaries, Protocol Officers, Court Registrars, Process Clerks and Bailiffs organised by the National Judicial Institute, told the judiciary supporting staff that as the first point of contact with courts users, their conduct would serve as a key indicator of courts’ performance.
Justice Mahmud called on the workers to shun corruption in all its ramifications saying “it erodes public confidence in the judiciary’s ability to impartially dispense justice and bring disrepute to the institution that we hold dear.”
He told them not to hide files and not to engage in rumour peddling.
He assured the workers that those who worked hard would be encouraged and rewarded but said those that exhibited bad character and perpetuate corruption would be dealt with appropriately.
He said: “As you may have read in various media portals over the years, our courts have become labeled as havens of apathy, with a decline in staff discipline as well as the exhibition of poor attitude to work, and persistent absenteeism from the office for no just reason.
“A concurrent and overlapping criticism that is also often voiced by members of the public is that judicial staff solicit for funds from lawyers or court users, to carry out their duties.
“More worrisome is the allegation that our court staff disclose confidential information received in the course of their duties and destroy or conceal evidence in cases pending in court. Similarly, some have even presented themselves as persons capable of influencing the decisions of the court.
“Corrupt practices such as these should not exist in the judiciary and will not be tolerated where such practices exist.”
The CJN enjoined the workers to exude absolute integrity in the way and manner they related with the public in the course of discharging their official duties.
He urged them to act in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Court Employees and to abide by the principles inherent in the code, while desisting from any act that violated these rules.
He urged them to undertake their functions impartially and avoid unhelpful and illegal considerations or discrimination.
He said: “You must be aware of the delicate position you occupy and the responsibilities that go with it.
“Consequently, you must strive to protect the public interest, act with objectivity and keep official documents in your possession, confidential.
“At all times it is important to be courteous and selfless in rendering services without fear or favour, noting that the court is like a market place, if you throw a stone, it may hit someone you know.
“Therefore at all times, perform your duties efficiently, impartially and honestly.”
He counselled the workers to become proficient in the use of information and communications technology (ICT), saying the judiciary would not lag behind in the implementation of court automation.