Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen
THE Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), on Thursday, asked the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to take up the task of cleansing the judiciary of all forms of corrupt practices.
This was as they lamented the failure of the judiciary to independently address cases of corruption among its officials.
Speaking at a valedictory session in honour of the outgoing CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, a representative of the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Thompson Okpoko, said the last six months of the outgoing CJN had been the most turbulent in the history of the nation’s judiciary.
While reiterating that the both lawyers and judges were involved in crises rocking the arm of government, Okpoko said the problems, which are grave and portend danger to the legal profession, must be arrested.
He added that to restore honour and dignity to the judiciary, the legal profession must pull itself together and work out a situation that would restore confidence in the nation’s judicial system.
“Our incoming CJN must now face these challenges. The task is enormous and undaunting, but the damage is not beyond repairs,” he said.
Eulogising the impressive career of Justice Mohammed, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said the immediate past CJN influenced the development of the nation’s judiciary and impacted the country in a profound way.
NBA President, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, who spoke on behalf of the association, averred that Justice Mohammed would always be remembered for his many judgments and his peculiar sense of details and strict adherence to the rule of law at all times.
The NBA boss said although the arrest of some judges by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) went against the provision of the constitution, there was the need to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary.
He expressed hope that the NJC would rise to the challenge of restoring the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, represented at the valedictory session by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Taiwo Abidogun, lauded the outgoing CJN for his immense contributions to the nation’s judiciary.
In his valedictory speech, the retiring CJN disclosed that he initiated and implemented far-reaching reforms that revolutionised the country’s judiciary.
“Our nation owes the Judiciary a debt of gratitude for standing firm in the face of contrary winds that threatened to blow our nascent democracy off course.
“During the run-up to the 2015 elections, our judicial officers withstood immense pressure in order to guarantee a level-playing field and smooth transition of government, which ensured that we were spared a re-enactment of the June 12 saga.
“In fact, the courts, thus securing the electoral process, disallowed so many frivolous matters aimed at truncating the electoral process,” he said.
“I am proud of the Nigerian judiciary. Indeed, the need to protect the institutions from undue influence was a key concern of mine during my tenure,” he said.