The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, has emphasised the need for judicial officers to imbibe the culture of discipline if the ongoing reforms in the judiciary must achieve reasonable success.
To this, Onnoghen charged judicial administrators to instill discipline among all court staff, an action he noted will ensure that the judiciary continues to function optimally.
The CJN who gave the charge while declaring open the 2017 Refresher Course for Chief Registrars, Deputy Chief Registrars, Directors and Secretaries of the Judicial Service Commissions/Committee which held in Abuja, Monday, also urged the administrators to cooperate with Heads of Courts in the implementation of various policies aimed at effective justice delivery.
“At this juncture, I wish to state that any effort at judicial reform without the acquiescence, active participation and cooperation of Judicial Administrators in the Judicial sector will be an exercise in futility. As Court Administrators, it would not be out of place to state that you all play an integral role in maintaining an efficient, impartial and transparent system of administration of justice.
“You must work harder to fulfill your statutory roles and obligations, which require that you act in accordance with due process while guaranteeing strict compliance with the ethics of your office and the Code of Conduct for court employees”, he said.
Onnoghen, while stressing that the effective realisation of judicial administration is a collective effort as well as a reflection of personal commitment of its leadership, both judicial and administrative, urged the officers to exhibit a positive character and attitude worthy of emulation, and avoid conflict of interest when dealing with staff and members of the public.
“Let me add by saying that you must be very punctual as this will motivate your staff to also be punctual to work. You should see yourselves as the image of the judiciary and must carry out your duties in an organized and timely way”, he said.
While declaring a zero tolerance for corruption, Onnoghen however warned that any judicial officer who is susceptible to bribery in any form, or who is prone to nepotism, favoritism, tribalism and other negative vices is unworthy of his or her office and thus has no place in the judiciary.
He described the Judicial Administrators as the engine room of the judiciary, on whose shoulders the success or failure of the sector rest and charged them to be alive to their responsibilities.
“I encourage you to remember that your role as Judicial Administrators provide the fillip that ensures the overall success of any judicial system. Your actions and inactions can affect the speed and quality of the delivery of justice while endangering the confidence in our courts. You must work closely with your Heads of Courts while maintaining a respectful relationship with their Lordships”, he said.
Earlier, in a welcome address, the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice Rosaline Bozimo said the theme of the workshop, “The Role of Judicial Administrators in Promoting and Sustaining Effective Performance in the Judiciary” was crafted with specific focus on the role of the Administrators in the realisation of the reforms initiated by Justice Onnoghen.
She said, “As you all are aware; the judiciary renders a very important service to the nation, and citizenry through the dispensation of justice…. You are the indispensable compliment to our judicial officers and therefore must possess a wide number of qualities, which includes a sound knowledge of the law, administrative savvy, as well as leadership skills and an honest and exemplary character”.