Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed yesterday, reacted to the rumour making the rounds following recent Supreme Court ruling on governorship elections and other cases, saying the critics were ignorant of the law.
He said those insinuating that judicial officers are corrupt are only being inconsiderate and ignorant of the modus operandi of the Judicial.
Speaking at the valedictory court session in honour of retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Muhammad Muntaka-Coomassie, the CJN said: “Such criticisms are made without due considerations of the law and the system of government in the country.”
He said that the judiciary has it as a priority to act and would continue to act in accordance with the regulations of the law as it stands and not as its critics would want it to be.
Also speaking, Augustine Alegeh, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday frowned at those criticizing the judiciary, saying it was a deliberate attempt to spoil the tarnish the image of the Judiciary.
He said it was disheartening that politicians will only commend the Supreme Court when decisions favour them.
“It is sad to note that some persons who commend the Supreme Court when the decisions favour them will deride the same court when the decisions go against them.
“The NBA will continue to defend the Supreme Court which remains the highest court of our land as the court has always dispensed justice in accordance with the law.”
He also said that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to provide a secured environment for judicial workers.
According to him, “Instances where judicial officers are threatened in open courts by litigants or counsel are highly regrettable and condemnable. The NBA will not hesitate to take disciplinary steps against counsel who engage in this show of shame.”
He admitted there may be few corrupt ones in the system, but urged the public to stop generalizing the whole judiciary as being corrupt, stressing that people with such notions should come out with facts.
He said, “the NBA restates unequivocally that the categorization of the entire judiciary as corrupt is a misconception and will stand solidly behind the judiciary in any attempt to intimidate or harass its personnel.
“The NBA, however, wishes to sound a note of warning to the few bad eggs in the system to desist from further causing untold embarrassment to the judicial arm of government and will henceforth, sanction any judicial officer involved in or suspected to be involved in any corrupt or fraudulent transaction to the appropriate quarters for action.”
Justice Muhammad-Coomassie on his part, solicited for a mutual respect and relationship between the legislative and the judiciary, stating that the Constitution provides for separation of powers and independence of the three arms of government.
He said, “I am using this medium to appeal to government at all levels to free the judiciary from the bondage it has been subjected to over the years.
“Let it not just be said to be independent, but should indeed be seen to be transparently independent. Under-funded and neglected over the years which he said has negatively impacted on the infrastructure and personnel within the system. This reduces productivity, increases frustration and deflates morale.”
He made an advocate that retired justices be given the benefit of annual medical treatment locally and abroad if the need arises, adding that retiring justices of the Supreme Court who are not CJN should be granted some money to build houses to avoid the embarrassment of living as tenants after reaching the pinnacle of their career in service to the Nation.