Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
THE Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad has said the Judiciary is not averse to criticism and should be constructively criticized when the need arises.
Justice Muhammed said since they are human beings, judges are not perfect and could err in the performance of their duties.
The CJN urged the Executive arm to desist from withholding funds due to the Judiciary to enabel it function as expected.
He also urged Nigerians not to hesitate to report to the National Judicial Council (NJC) where judges are found to have contravened their oath of office.
He spoke in Abuja while receiving members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) led by the Chairman, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN) who paid a courtesy visit to the Supreme Court yesterday.
Supreme Court’s Director, Press and Information, Festus Akande, in a statement on quoted the CJN as saying that judges are meticulous in their duties as they always subject cases to critical review of all facts and evidence to arrive at a decision is just to all parties in a free, fair and generally acceptable manner without any iota of equivocation.
Justice Muhammed said: ‘’We are all seasoned judicial officers that were appointed to the Supreme Court based on merit, experience and qualification.
“We are bound by the oath we have subscribed to and thus discharge our responsibilities without deference to anybody and we will continue to do so.
“We are never above board as human beings. So we are open to constructive criticisms.
“It may interest you to know that before we deliver any ruling or judgment, no matter how small it is, even if it is only five sentences, we have to hold conference with all the Justices on the panel and could even expand it in some critical situations to involve all the Justices of the court.
“The sole aim of this practice is to ensure that justice is given in every case before us, no matter how infinitesimal it might be because we are the final court in the land.
“Our judgments are always all-encompassing and must, at all times, reflect the feelings and views of every Justice on the panel.
“Dissenting judgments are always encouraged because we cannot all see things from the same perspective.”
Justice Muhammad added: ”The court will continue to dispense justice in a free and fair manner that every citizen will be happy to say at the end of the day that justice is done, except of course, for those people who will only accept that justice is done when it favours them and not when the right thing is done.”
He urged the PACAC members to help impress on the Executive the need to release all funds meant for the Judiciary at the appropriate time to avoid halting its operations.
He further appealed to them to always offer advice whenever the need arises and not to also hesitate to forward petitions against any erring judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for immediate action, stressing that his administration is poised to maintain a zero tolerance for corruption within the Judiciary.
Justice Muhammed stressed: ‘’If you have any complaint against any judicial officer, you can approach the National Judicial Council immediately with your petition.
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“I can assure you that it will be looked into quickly and the required action will be taken against such judge. We are maintaining a zero tolerance for corruption.
“If you see us going the wrong way, based on your own understanding, you should quickly call our attention, because we are amenable to correction, as it is only the almighty God that is infallible.’’
The Chairman of Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, Prof. Sagay, informed the host that the committee was in the court on a congratulatory visit to the Chief Justice of Nigeria for the well deserved appointment as the Chief Judicial Officer of the Federation and wished him well in his new office.
He said: ‘’We are here to express our solidarity and also show appreciation with the way the Chief Justice of Nigeria is treating corruption cases in the court. Contrary to what people have been saying, neither me nor my committee is hostile to the Judiciary.
We, therefore, urge the Supreme Court of Nigeria, being the apex court of the country, to always use Justice as the basis of judgment and not the law. Whenever there is a clash between justice and law, justice should always prevail. There should never be a situation where law will take the place of justice.’’
He urged the CJN and other Justices of the Supreme Court to always ensure that, where there seems to be no remedy or a way out of a nebulous issue, they should apply their well-endowed wisdom to find a way out to save the county from any form of breakdown or chaos.
‘’We want the golden era where developed countries learn from our own Supreme Court to be re-enacted because that is the bastion of our national pride.
“Fighting corruption is a collective task and we are here to join force with the Judiciary to take this anti-corruption fight to a logical conclusion for the good of our dear country.”