Be Guided by Rule of Law, not Sentiment, Acting CJN Tells Election Petition Panels

The Acting CJN, Hon Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, has appealed to chairmen and members of the Election Petition Tribunal that would handle cases arising from the 2019 general election to be guided by the Rule of Law and not sentiment.

Muhammad, who made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja at the swearing-in ceremony of a batch of 17 Chairmen and Members of the panel, said the judicious adjudication of electoral matters brought before them goes a long way in determining the peace in the country.

The Acting CJN, who was assisted by seven other Justices of the Supreme Court to administer the oath of office on the panelists, noted that the task before the election petition panel was an onerous one that would impact heavily upon the Judiciary and the nation as a whole and as such they cannot afford to fail.

“It is the general belief that elections held when the rule of law is too fragile, seldom lead to lasting democratic governance. You are enjoined to always strike a balance between justice and rule of law as you embark on this critical national assignment.

“As you all know, the rule of law delayed, is lasting peace denied because justice is a handmaiden of true peace. We need this in Nigeria more than ever before. The trumpet must first sound from the temple of justice; hence we put you forward as champions of this noble cause.

“By virtue of this oath, you are now armed with the power to adjucate on electoral disputes and take decisions in accordance with your convictions which must be deeply rooted in law and not sentiments or public opinion”, he said.

Muhammad accordingly charged them to submit themselves to the sanctity of the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution in the discharge of their judicial functions, adding that their participation in these tribunals at this crucial phase of the Nigerian Judiciary is not by accident but a clear design of the Almighty God.

He noted that in the discharge of their duties they would be confronted with a lot of temptations as well as blackmails, but they should rather see such as a test of their strength of character, honesty and integrity.

“My candid advice is that, in whatever circumstance, you should always be mindful of this oath you have just taken because it now stands as an uncompromising witness between you and your Creator”, he added.

Muhammad had on January 26, swore in over 200 chairmen and members of the 2019 Election Petition Tribunal.