Shun Corruption, Decide Cases Purely on Merit, CJN Tells Judges  

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has again harped on the need for judges in the country to avoid corruption in the discharge of their duties and ensure that decisions made particularly in political matters are based on merit and not influenced by external forces.

Onnoghen, who gave the charge Tuesday in Abuja at the opening of the 34th Annual Judges Conference of the Federal High Court, said the judges through their judgments should ensure that democracy is enthroned in the country.

Represented by Justice Inyang Okoro, the CJN remarked that with the forthcoming 2019 general election, courts will be flooded with litigation and as such, judges as umpire, must stamp out corruption in all ramifications in the cases that will be assigned to them.

“Let me emphasise that this Judges Annual Conference is a stock-taking event, especially now that tempo of political activities will be on the increase, we as judges must do everything to nurture democracy by cleaning up our house and dump the toga of corruption.

“In the discharge of our functions, we must strive to steer the nation to transparency and good governance and stem the tide of bad governance by avoiding external influence in our justice delivery.

“In the next few months, court will be flooded with litigation and as judicial officers, we must resolve all political issues on merit, devoid of external influence,” he said.

The CJN further charged them to perform their judicial functions in line with the provisions of Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, stressing that judges must rise to the coming challenges by cleaning up their houses and dump the toga of corruption.

While he reiterated that respect for the rule of law is pivotal to the survival of democracy, Onnoghen pleaded with the judges to carry out their judicial functions expeditiously and stem the tide of bad governance.

In his welcome address, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, disclosed that the purpose of the weeklong conference is to take stock and appraise the judicial functions of the previous year and to resolve knotty issues that may have arisen after the previous legal year.

Justice Abdu-Kafarati pleaded with the judges to re-dedicate themselves to the law and constitution and continue to carry out their functions without fear.

He stressed the need for judges, especially the newly appointed ones, to abide by his directive on granting of exparte orders, insisting that it is better to hear all sides before taking decision, adding that it would help them avoid unnecessary controversy in the adjudication process.