By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Friday charged judges in the country not to turn themselves into political tools in the hands of politicians who may wish to use them in achieving their selfish ends.
Onnoghen gave the warning while swearing in 12 new Justices of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
He said as judicial officers, they should use the law as it should be used to decide matters that brought before them, adding that in any matter one party must win while the other loses.
“Let me emphasise now that politics is here and election matters will be arising, as judges things should be done to bring down the temperature. We have to be careful so as not to be used as instruments for personal and intraparty squabble.
” Look at the matter before you, look at the law and use the law to decide. It doesn’t matter who wins or losses, be careful. We should use the law to decide all political matters according to law because judiciary remains the hope of every man whether superman or ordinary man”, he said.
Onnoghen further charged them to abide by the constitution, oath of office, conduct for judicial officers and as well adhere strictly to judicial precedence if they must succeed as judges.
Onnoghen said the independence of the judiciary was the bedrock of democracy, adding that adherence to the rule of law is the solution to Nigeria’s problems.
He stressed that impunity would vanish, when everybody resolves to do the right thing at the right time, adding that judges should not entertain counsel appearing before them who are not properly dressed.
He added that when judges do the right thing at the right time, they “Will sleep and snore and will not care whose ox is gored because judiciary and the law will be there to protect them”
In the same vein, Onnoghen said judges will be sleepless when they cut corners, adding that, they must be courageous and fearless in the discharge of their duties.
“As judicial officers, you carry the whole nation on your head in terms of justice dispensation and when you adhere to your oath of office, there would be no problem”, he said.
The CJN noted that with the inuaguration of the justices, the court of Appeal had been enriched with more hands, who have been found worthy and so honoured.
He however, charged them to be more hardworking because of the workload of the court. ” Let me emphasise here that to whom much is given much is expected.
“Your appointment and inuaguration is not for holiday but an invitation to be hardworking. Your track records are there, but you can improve on them because of the new status and new challenges”, he said.
On the issue of financial autonomy for state judiciary, the CJN remarked that the constitution had already granted that under section 121(3), but that the political will to enforce it had been lacking. ” Financial autonomy for the judiciary has been there what has been lacking is the political courage and will to enforce the constitution by past administration “, he said.
The 12 new Justices of the Court of Appeal are Justice Patricia A. Mahmud, wife of President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Justice Folasade O. Ojo, Justice Ibrahim A. Andenyangsto, Justice Gabriel O. Kolawole, Justice Bariki B. Aliyu, Justice James G. Abundaga, Justice Ebiowei Tobi.
Others include Justice Abubakar S. Umar, Justice Abubakar M. Talba, Justice Abdullahi M. Bayero, Justice Abubakar M. Lamido and Justice Mohammed B. Idris.