The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen on Friday urged judges in the country not to allow themselves to be used as tools by politicians to achieve their selfish ends.
Onnoghen sounded the warning while swearing in 12 new Justices of the Court of Appeal (JCAs) in Abuja.
He said as judicial officers, they should used the law as it should be used to decide matters that are brought before them, adding that in any matter, one party must win while the other loses.
The CJN said, “Let me emphasized here 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 .We should use the law to decide all political matters according to law because judiciary remains the last hope of every man whether superman or ordinary man”.
Onnoghen further urged the jurists to abide by the constitution, oath of office and Code of Conduct for judicial officers, as well as adhere strictly to judicial precedence.
The CJN said that when judges do the right things 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. Be courageous and fearless in the discharge of your duties.
Onnoghen , however, promised judges who elect to cut corners that they will have sleepless nights because the institution will not shield them but fight and expose them.
He said, “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”.
The CJN noted that with the inuaguration of the justices, the Court of Appeal has been enriched with more hands, who have been found worthy and so honoured.
He however, urged them to work hard and help to workload of the court.
” Let me emphasized here that Court of Appeal is not a place for holiday 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 added.
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 has been lacking.
He said, ” 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 “.
Onnoghen emphasized that the independence of the judiciary is the bedrock of democracy, adding that adherence to the rule of law is the solution to our problems.
He stressed that impunity would vanish, when all of us resolved to do the right thing at the right time.
The 12 new JCAs approved for the Court of Appeal are:- Justice Patricia Abuma Mahmud, Justice Folasade Ayodeji Ojo, Justice Ibrahim Ali Andenyangsto ,Justice Gabriel Omoniyi Kolawole, Justice Bariki Bello Aliyu, Justice James Gambo Abundaga, Justice Ebiowei Tobi, Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar, Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba, Justice Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero, Justice Ababakar Mu’azu Lamido and Justice Mohammed Baba Idris.