Shun corruption, be apolitical, CJN tells judges

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has advised judges of the Federal High Court to be apolitical, independent minded and neutral in giving judgments.

Mohammed gave the charge at the opening of the 32nd annual conference of Federal High Court judges in Abuja, on Tuesday.

The CJN, who declared the conference opened, said this was the only way they would remain unquestionable and retain the trust and confidence of  Nigerians.

He said that judges must be seen to be people of high integrity and capable of delivering justice in matters brought before them.

“We must strive to be apolitical, neutral and most importantly, independent in matters that pertain to the business of the court.

“We must shun the lure of corruption and the temptation to adjudicate on narrow perceived grounds, which may offend even our own rules of court.

“Judges must also be able to actually hold the balance between order and chaos, harmony and violence, prosperity and poverty.

“While the judges decide on which side the scale will tilt, they should ,however, endeavour to uphold the law and interpret it just as it is and not as they imagine or wish it to be.

“The Federal High Court, perhaps, more than any other court, has the power to make orders and judgments, which impact our government and our nation.

“It has historically been at the centre of momentous change and is consequently more visible than other courts. As such ,your Lordships must protect its reputation and integrity at all cost,” he said.

He said that it was unfortunate that legal commentators have continued to flay the judiciary for creating greater instability in the land

Mahmud berated judges, who were currently enmeshed in one form of conflicting judgement or the other.

“It is most ridiculous when judges of the same court seemingly sit on appeal over the judgments of their brother judges to the extent of mounting personal attacks on their own colleagues,” he said.

According to him, the situation which recently played out at the Federal High Court is already before the National Judicial Council

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Justice Okon Abang and  Justice Mohammed Liman, delivered conflicting judgment on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national convention.

He enjoined judges to put their differences aside and work toward the efficient delivery of justice in the country.

“The time has come for us to pull ourselves together and face the fact that our jobs do not permit infantile personality clashes while we are the arbiters of other people’s disputes.

“We must remain as the symbol of justice, blind to status, personality and origin.”

In his welcome address, the Chief Judge of the FHC, Justice Ibrahim Auta, said that the conference would afford the judges the opportunity to identify current problems facing the court.

Auta added that it was also expected that the judges at the conference would evolve solutions to such problems.