The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has vowed to weed out corrupt judicial officers in the judicial system of the nation.
This was part of Justice Mohammed’s speech while addressing the newly appointed Federal High Court Judges on Wednesday.
He described the judiciary as the most potent public service with power of life and death. He warned judicial officers to avoid using their power for personal gain.
Besides, the CJN, while acknowledging need for the judiciary to sanitize itself in view of the mounting allegations of corruption, urged anyone with concrete evidence against any judge to feel free to approach the National Judicial Council, NJC.
“I wish to address the vest issue of judicial corruption. This is because allegations about corrupt judicial officers and staff now make headline news on more frequent basis. “It is necessary for the judiciary to address this issue,” he said.
“Although I will not hide away from the reality that some judges and judicial staff may be complicit in corrupt practices, however, I must assert that corruption within the judiciary is only imbibed by a minute minority.
“I believe that the Nigerian judiciary is comprised largely of judicial officers who are hardworking, dedicated, ethically minded, learned, patriotic and possess the highest standards of morals.
“The Nigerian judiciary is one of the hardest working Judiciaries in the world, despite the paucity of funds and the lack of adequate welfare provisions for its personnel.
But you want to be careful before you accuse a judge of corruption. You need to do your homework…and do it very well. According to Nigeria’s Chief Judge, “ as the saying goes- he who alleges must prove. This will indeed be done where the accusers themselves avail us of the particulars of these incidences of judicial corruption as well as the identity of the perpetrators, so that the NJC can act promptly and appropriately to remove such deviants from the bench.”
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, warned judges not to allow politicians use them as pawns.
He said: “It is also a solemn covenant to the Almighty that you will perform your duty with all due diligence and honesty. As such, you must strive not to betray these oaths as this will also mean a betrayal of the trust of those who screened, interviewed and recommended you before your eventual appointment.
“It will indeed be a betrayal of the trust of Nigerians who have reposed in you the power of judgement as the representatives of God on earth.
“Your lordships must, therefore, take the proverbial bull by the horns and pull the plough within your courts so that we cultivate a highly professional, incorruptible and effective justice delivery system.
“This we can only do, when we dispense justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
“We must be seen to do justice though the heaven may fall and I assure your lordships that the heavens will surely not fall.”
He also advised judges to avoid acts capable of delaying the administration of justice, saying that the appointment of the 30 judges was in response to the need to improve access to justice for all Nigerians.
He said that the new judges were thoroughly scrutinized by various legal bodies and the Department of State Service, DSS, before they were selected, saying over 2000 applicants were whittled down to 128 shortlisted persons who stood for interviews at the Federal Judicial Service Commission in June 2015.