CJN’s Out-of-Place Criticism

CJN’s Out-of-Place Criticism

In what many considered as insensitive, the Chief Justice Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, last week reiterated the judiciary’s determination not to be overwhelmed by the sentiments of the “mob” in their decisions.

Speaking during the special session of the 2023/2024 legal year and the swearing-in of 58 newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Justice Ariwoola who apparently was responding to the criticisms that have so far trailed tribunal judgements, urged judges not to be overwhelmed by the actions or loud voices of the mob or crowd who have confused the law with sentiment or something else in deciding our cases.

Though the CJN used the occasion to admonished the judicial officers to work very hard and be very honest, humble and courteous to all in their discharge of judicial duties, he remarked that it was necessary for them to have at the back of their minds that public opinions, sentiments or emotions can never take the place of law in deciding the cases that come before them.

It is really sad that the CJN has not seen anything fundamentally wrong with the embarrassments the judges, especially of the Court of Appeal, are causing the judiciary. From the Kano governorship judgement to Plateau and others, it is one form of incongruous judgement or inconsistency with set precedents or the other. Even retired senior judges are embarrassed.

Many observers feel that this is the second time the CJN would dismiss the feelings of Nigerians concerning the incongruous, and controversial judgements that are inconsistent with set precedents in recent times.

At the peak of the criticisms that trailed the judgement of the Supreme Court affirming former Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio as senatorial candidates on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) respectively, the apex court had attempted to gag the public from subjecting their judgements to public scrutiny.

Many had faulted the apex court’s reaction, noting that if politicians and political parties cannot manage their internal wrangling maturely, Nigerians expect the courts to whip them into line by doing justice to all.

While it is natural for those who lost court cases to condemn judgments, the CJN’s comments were insensitive and could embolden corrupt judges to continue on this destructive path and destroy Nigeria’s democracy.

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