Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria has warned judges across the country to be wary of their involvement in the forthcoming general election of 2019 and the antics of politicians, saying the judiciary must protect their hard-earned integrity.
The Chief Justice said this in Abuja in his open speech at 2017’s Annual Conference of Justices of Court of Appeal.
He said “soon the tempo of political activities will pick up” and therefore urged judges to watch the company they keep, especially desperate politicians who are bent on having their ambition fulfil in crooks and by all means might embarrass judicial officials who receives all kinds of people with open arms.
“Let me remind us that our salvation remains in our hands; so in the approaching frenzied political activities leading to the 2019 general elections, let us continue to watch the company we keep, the people we open our doors to, lest we unwittingly open ourselves to ridicule and embarrassment as the politicians will do anything, not necessarily legal, to have their way, including destroying our hard-earned reputation and integrity.”
The CJN who said he was desirous of leaving behind “a judiciary that has been returned to its glory as a noble and enviable institution in every sense of the word”, added, “Your level of preparation, coupled with the determination of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, to bequeath to Nigeria a legacy of credible election process, will guarantee the peace and stability we all desire.”
He added, “On judicial precedents as they relate to election and pre-election matters, I want to remind us that the Supreme Court has decided in a number of cases that the principles of judicial review such as Mandamus, Certiorari, and Prohibition etc do not apply because election and election-related matters, such as pre-election causes, are suis generis.
“There is an emerging trend whereby a party in a pre-election or election matter, after exhausting his remedies sometimes up to the Supreme Court still pursues a parallel cause of action under the guise of judicial review hoping that one of such parallel actions may succeed, thereby making the court to contradict itself, resulting in a great embarrassment to the system.”
He noted that failure of judges, especially in the courts lower than the Supreme Court, to adhere to the principle often led to “much injustice.”
He also urged the judges not to allow lawyers to mislead them to the embarrassment of the judiciary.
He said, “I am saying these because soon the tempo of political activities will pick up and some lawyers will stop at nothing in their effort to outsmart the Bench; so be very careful and as I have always said, be on top of your game by mastering the principles of laws and facts relevant to the case or issues involved in the dispute so as not to allow legal practitioners to mislead you to the embarrassment of the judiciary.”