Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, on Tuesday told judges of the Federal High Court to try as much as possible to be apolitical, neutral and independent-minded in their dispensation of justice, in order to remain unquestionable and retain the trust and confidence of the Nigerian people.
Justice Mohammed was of the opinion that judges at all times must be seen to be people of high integrity that are not only capable of delivering justice in matters brought before them but actually hold the balance between order and chaos, harmony and violence, prosperity and poverty.
The CJN, who gave the charge while declaring open the 2016/2017 Annual Judges Conference of the court held in Abuja, said while the judges decide on which side the scale will tilt, they should however endeavour to uphold the law and interpret it just as it is and not as they imagine or wish it to be.
“My Lords, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, permit me to reiterate that the Federal High Court, perhaps more than any other court, has the power to make orders and judgments, which impact our government and our nation. It has historically been at the centre of momentous change and is consequently more visible than other courts. As such your lordships must protect its reputation and integrity, at all cost”, he said.
Adding that, “We must strive to be apolitical, neutral and most importantly independent in matters that pertain to the business of the court. We must shun the lure of corruption and the temptation to adjudicate on narrow perceived grounds, which may offend even our own rules of court.”
He stated that it is no longer news to hear legal commentators and other observers flay the judiciary for creating greater instability in the land and expressing doubt over its competence and desire to meet the ends of justice.
While berating judges who are currently enmeshed in one controversy or the other, the CJN stated that, “It is most ridiculous when judges of the same court seemingly sit on appeal over the judgments of their brother judges to the extent of mounting personal attacks on their own colleagues”, adding that the situation which recently played out at the Federal High Court is already before the National Judicial Council (NJC).
He therefore charged judges to put their differences aside and work towards the efficient delivery of justice in the land.
“The time has come for us to pull ourselves together and face the fact that our jobs do not permit infantile personality clashes while we are the arbiters of other people’s dispute; we must remain as the symbol of justice, blind to status, personality and origin.”
Earlier, Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, stated that the conference would afford them the opportunity to identify current problem facing the court and proffer solutions as well as apportion blames to their erring brothers.
He said: “This year’s conference could not have come at a better time in view of the recent developments in our court and the need to address the issues raised by either misrepresentation or misinterpretation or both. The object of this conference therefore, is to critically discuss these and other issues so that we can go ahead with our primary responsibilities untainted.