Shun Gratification, Undue Delay in Justice Delivery, CJN Tells New Judges

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Justice Ibrahim Muhammad

By Alex Enumah

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Monday told newly appointed judges of the High Court of Justice and Kadis of Sharia Court to shun all forms of gratification in the discharge of their legal duties.

The CJN also admonished the judges to be proactive and devise personal means to curb “persistent delays in the administration of justice”, which according to him, is a major bane in the nation’s judiciary.

Justice Muhammad gave the charge, while declaring open the 2020 Virtual Induction Course for newly appointed judges and Kadis organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Abuja.

“My Lords, ladies and gentlemen, it is no longer news that much of the criticisms levelled against the justice delivery system in Nigeria are about persistent delays in the administration of justice, bias and wrong applications of laws. These acts are often not to the delight of litigants and court users as they often frown on the way services are rendered.

“As such, a better understanding of the current trends in justice administration will help you appraise and curb the waste of judicial time and resources, thereby ensuring justice delivery is efficient and proactive.

“Accordingly, while discharging your duties, it is important to note that all forms of gratification must not be associated with you. You must not be found wanting; transparency, honesty and accountability must remain your watch word. I urge you therefore to eschew corruption in the discharge your duties.

“You must also abreast yourself with relevant laws; maintain judicial authority in the courtroom; develop a simple style of judgment writing and optimize your time and resources,” he said.

The CJN further advised the new judges to endeavour to obtain a good understanding of their operating environment so as to avoid possible pitfalls and challenges when deciding matters brought before them.

In a welcome address, the Administrator of the NJI, Justice Rosaline Bozimo (rtd), noted that the theme: ‘Inculcating Judicial Excellence in the Newly Appointed Judicial Officers’, is apt because the course is aimed at adequately equipping the new judges for the challenges on the higher bench as it relates to adjudication and other ancillary issues.

The administrator, who reminded the new judges that their appointment is a privilege one, said they must do everything to live above board.

“Let me use this medium to caution you to refrain and spurn all forms of corrupt practices bearing in mind the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers and the oath of office which you have sworn to.

“It is my firm belief that you will continue to adhere to this admonition; in the same vein, this course will aid you in the proper application of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in the discharge of your duties; and be assured that the institute will be more than willing to conduct workshops that will aid you in the discharge of your duties,” she said.

Justice Bozimo subsequently urged the new judicial officers to perform their duties faithfully and “without fear or favour, affection or ill will, but in accordance with the provisions of the relevant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.