CJN Onnoghen Cautions Judges against Gratification

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has warned judges in Nigeria to avoid all forms of misconduct, including accepting gratification, noting that as judges, they are expected to live above board in the dispensation of justice.

Onnoghen who also noted that judges play a crucial role in ensuring the financial stability in Nigeria, advised them to work in synergy with regulators of the financial sector to put in place mechanism that would guarantee the safety of deposits and investment of Nigerians.

He spoke at the 2017 sensitisation seminar for Federal Capital Territory FCT and state High Court judges organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute in Abuja.

Speaking on the theme:  ‘Challenges to Deposit Insurance law and Practice  in Nigeria’, the CJN said: “Although judges are subject to the same human frailty as all other members of the society, while at the same time maintaining judicial independence, you must expect your conduct to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. Various aspects of misconduct, including accepting gratification, and when delicate matters touching on deposits and investors funds are before your Lordships, they must be avoided.”

According to him, where judges indulge in such acts, the repercussion would be that of placing the wealth of the nation out of reach from regulation, and eventually inviting financial collapse of the entire economy.

“This workshop is evidenced that the regulators in the sector recognise the importance of the role played by the judiciary in ensuring system stability in Nigeria. Judges must therefore learn to look beyond narrow interests of claimants and balance same against public interest in having a stable financial system and protecting the interest of depositors,” he said.

Onnoghen added that judges in their adjudication should recognise that financial system stability laws and policy have clear objectives for the prevention of financial crisis and are targeted primarily at protecting a special class of persons, whom he described as depositors.

Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Hon. Justice Roseline Bozimo, who noted that the theme of the workshop was apt as it is  aimed at fostering previous efforts of the corporation and NJI,  said the seminar would help fashion out ways of scaling some of the hurdles faced by the corporation in the discharge of its duties as it pertains to the rule of law.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NDIC, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, while acknowledging that the judiciary remains a major stakeholder in achieving the vision and mandate of the corporation, said seminar such as this affords the corporation a rare privilege of closely interfacing with the judiciary.