The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, on Monday reiterated the commitment of the National judicial Council towards restoring the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary.
Speaking at an event to mark the swearing in of two new Supreme Court justices, Paul Galinje and Sidi Bage, Mr. Onnoghen said the independence of the judiciary is fundamental to ensure the rule of law.
“My lords, ladies and gentlemen, our democracy is evolving and we must all work towards ensuring that the rule of law is deeply entrenched in our nation. To do otherwise is an invitation to chaos and anarchy.
“We must constantly be reminded of the importance of preserving and protecting the Judiciary which by its Constitutional mandate is the foundation of the rule of law in any society.
“Any threat to that foundation, including threat to its independence, portends danger for such society as the citizens will ultimately bear the brunt.
“Let me assure you all that, the National Judicial Council is poised more than ever before to restore confidence in the Judiciary as well as defend its independence and integrity. We will continue to review our guidelines and procedural rules as the need arises in the times we live,” said Mr. Onnoghen.
He called on the new judges to live above board, in a bid to prevent attacks that may threaten the independence of the judiciary.
“You are coming to the Supreme Court at a time when the third arm of government, the Judiciary is witnessing very challenging times. This should not make you despair, but rather spur you on to a greater commitment to defend the integrity and independence of the Judiciary.
“Failure to defend this institution would mean failing the citizens of this nation who have placed their hope in the judiciary for the fair and equitable dispensation of justice. I therefore urge you to always remain above board in the discharge of your duties in your new role.
Citing a previous remarks about the apex court by a former Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi, Mr. Onnoghen said the new justices, as well as their counterparts in the highest court, have been called to abide by the principles of absolute integrity, fairness and justice.
In a similar development, Mr. Onnoghen charged members of the Nigerian media to regulate their reportage in a way as to ensure improved confidence in the judiciary.
Speaking at a workshop organised by the National Judicial Institute in Abuja, Mr. Onnoghen said the media had a crucial role in restoring the confidence of the judiciary and sustaining Nigeria’s democracy.
“I am sure you will agree with me that the relationship between the fourth estate of the realm and our nation’s judiciary has been frosty. This is because members of the press are often after a “scoop”. Although a necessary hazard, the friction intermittently caused by this strain has at times resulted in the wider society having a wrong perception of the Nigerian judiciary.
“However I must emphasise the importance of preserving and protecting the judiciary as an institution designed to outlive individuals. The judiciary is the foundation of the rule of law in any society. If that foundation is threatened in any way; including threat to its independence, there cannot be a viable democracy. Therefore the press must partner with the judiciary in the performance of this very crucial role. Hence the need for the press to better regulate its reportage of Court proceedings matters that impact upon public confidence in the judiciary becomes crucial. I therefore urge you all to cross-check your facts for accurate and balanced reporting of its activities,” said Mr. Onnoghen.