The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Mahmud Mohammed has enjoined the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, to run his administration with total respect and obedience to the constitution.
In a keynote address delivered at the opening ceremony of the national workshop for Magistrates on Judicial Ethics and Corrupt Practices, which held at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, yesterday, Justice Mohammed tasked Buhari to focus on weeding out corrupt judges from the bench and ensure that all the funds appropriated to the state judiciary are promptly released to heads of courts, so they can function effectively.
“In a democratic setting such as ours, the ultimate goal of any government and indeed the judiciary is the provision of enabling environment that will facilitate an un-impeded access to justice and the substance of the framework that will preserve the Rule of Law.
“The issue of delay in disposal of cases in our courts is of great concern to me. There is an urgent need for speedy disposal of cases,” Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the CJN stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Systems, while he decried the working condition of Magistrates in the country.
“Many of you live in rented apartments with co-tenants some of whom may be or become litigants in your courts. The security of your lives and properties are very porous. Many of you have been attacked by hoodlums.
“Some have been kidnapped and huge ransoms demanded from their families. Some have even been killed by assassins. All these make the condition of your work so bad and challenging.
“These ugly scenarios are occasioned by the refusal of some State Chief Executives to obey the Constitution and give to your heads of Court what belong to the Judiciary of your State. Without proper funding, no head of court can perform magic.
“It is on this note that I call upon all the State Chief Executives, including those that will be coming on board on May 29, 2015, that they should please respect and obey the constitution they have sworn to uphold.
“All the funds appropriated to the State Judiciary should be promptly released to Heads of Courts so that they can function effectively.
“When the Magistrates feel unsecured by the government, they are tempted to provide the security themselves.
“Financial insecurity is the worst because it exposes the Magistrates to some corrupt and ignoble practices. This must be avoided by all means.
“The Magistrate must be adequately encouraged to discharge his duties without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.
“However, I must emphasize that the hardship being faced by the Magistrates should never be the reason for indulging in unwholesome conducts. Any erring Magistrate will be properly disciplined. But if you carry out your duties very effectively and diligently, you reward surely awaits you. Your destiny is in your own hands.
“Many past Chief Justices of Nigeria started as Magistrates just like you. If they can make it to the top, why not you? All that is required is honesty, hard work and integrity. If you possess all these, then you are ready to fly.
“The aim of this Workshop is to principally re-focus the Magistrates and awaken them to their responsibilities as Judicial Officers. It is also meant to keep them abreast of current trends in the administration of Justice,” the CJN said.