The outgoing Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Ndhai Auta, on Tuesday reiterated that the court gave all political office seekers a level playing ground during the 2015 general election that saved it from crisis.
Justice Auta said that it was based on the policy that the court did not disqualify President Muhammadu Buhari from contesting the 2015 presidential election despite several court cases that was filed against him.
The Chief Judge who made similar disclosure in an exclusive interview with The Daily Times in July this year said at the commencement of the 2017/2018 legal year in Abuja, that the court took the decision to allow all aspirants contest the 2015 election despite pressures from certain quarters to disqualify some persons.
“The attempt to stop the president from contesting was also rejected by this court”, he said.
He said that attempts to prevent some National Assembly members from contesting the 2015 polls on account of their defection from one party to another was also resisted by court who allowed all eligible candidates to test their popularity among the Nigerian electorates.
“Despite all pressures to stop certain members of the National Assembly as a result of their abandonment of the party that brought them to power, the court insisted that every candidate must be allowed to test his/her popularity.
According to him, the Federal High Court preferred a level playing ground to all candidates. “It is this option and insistence of this court that has kept the country together during and after the election. The Nation therefore owes it to the judiciary and particularly Federal High Court for the unity of this country”, he said.
The Chief Judge charged the judges to be bold in taken far reaching decisions even in the face of persecution in order to preserve the unity of Nigeria and earn public confidence for the judiciary which is the last hope of ordinary Nigerians.
“I urge you to be the reason the common man would believe in the goodness of the system. Do not be worried about the social media and those that deliver judgement on the pages of newspaper.”
“The job of judging is a special gift from God and in the end you will face God to justify your actions”, he said.
He prayed that God changes our mind to think more about the unity of Nigeria where everyone is treated as one and the same as “our job is perhaps the only one that guarantee the aspirations of our founding fathers”.
On the achievements recorded by the court so far, Justice Auta said that the court now has divisions all over the federation for administrative convenience and to take justice to the doorstep of all Nigerians.
Besides, the court now has 80 judges and 10 more will join the Federal High Court bench before the years runs out.
He thanked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen for his prompt approval to the request from the court.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, charged judges to be upright, fearless and considerate in the discharge of their duties.
Malami’s address was delivered by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo who commended the efforts of the Chief Judge in the reform policies executed under his leadership.
He said the judges need to improve the speed with which they dispense with cases before them without compromising on credibility, adding that judgement should always reflect laws on the facts.