The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, Monday admonished judges to refrain from commenting on matters of public interest on the social media and uploading their personal photographs on any social window.
If perhaps any judge serving in the state and federal judiciaries had by default uploaded personal information online, Onnoghen directed him or her to remove such information immediately and desist from such practice henceforth.
He gave the directive at the first biannual lecture of the Lagos State Judiciary held at the City Hall, Lagos Island yesterday, noting that the design of the blogging sites made it important for judges not to descend into such arena.
The lecture, which was the first of its series, was attended by the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke and the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, among others.
Onnoghen, who was represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour at the lecture, spoke on ‘Judicial Standards, Integrity, Respect and Public Perception: A Comparative Analysis from Independence in 1960 to the Present Millennium.’
Specifically, Onnoghen directed judges to refrain from commenting on the matters of public interest through social media blogging sites, especially Twitter, Facebook and Instagram among others.
For those who are on the social media, he directed them to remove their personal information online, and as well desist from uploading pictures of their holiday and personal activities on social media.
However, according to him, judges desirous of discussing public matters on the social media can only do so without revealing their identity. The interactive design of the internet blogging sites made it important for judges not to descend into such arena.
Onnoghen called for the study of law in the University to be made a second degree in view of the declining standards of education in the country.
He recommended that legal practitioners who wanted to be appointed into the bench, in addition to 10 years post call requirement, should also be mandated to have post graduate diploma in law.
Also at the lecture, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said it was important for them to always be above board and uphold ethical standards in view of their strategic role in the country.
Represented by the Special Assistant to the President on Economic Crimes, Mr. Biodun Aikomo, Osinbajo said judges “must be beyond reproach. They must be above board. They must abide by ethics and standards of the profession and dispense justice without rightly.”
Explaining the rationales behind major reforms his administration had implemented in both judiciary and security sectors, Ambode said the reforms were targeted at creating a sound pedestal for residents to be productive and in turn boost the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ambode said the major reforms in the sectors were already contributing to the growth of the economy, assuring that no effort would be spared in ensuring the success of the various initiatives.
He said: “I am very proud of the judicial sector reforms going on in the state. We are very proud of the work being done by the Chief Judge and the combination of the efforts being carried out by the Attorney General and Chief Judge is something we need to support.
“It is now very obvious that some major reforms are going on in the judicial sector and we are very proud as the executive arm of government to support the judicial sector reforms which we are also complementing with our security sector reforms.”
According to the governor, “In totality, the reforms are aimed at improving the economy of Lagos and grow the GDP and what is going on in the judicial sector is significant and we are very proud of it,” the governor said.
In her opening remarks, Oke commended Ambode for supporting the reforms being implemented in the state judiciary, describing him as a man of vision who is known for pursuit of excellence and international best standards in every area of his administration.
She said the lecture, which is the first of its kind not only in Lagos but in other jurisdictions, was designed to facilitate closer interaction between judiciary and the bar both in terms of practice and continuing legal education.
Oke reeled out some of the reforms being implementing to include judicial ethics and administration, old cases above 20 years elimination programme, designation of special offences court, sexual offences court, small claims court, child rights law and regulations, prison decongestion effort, among others.
The chief judge therefore said the lecture was one of the initiatives put together to advance justice delivery in the state.