The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen yesterday declared that executive recklessness could only be tackled by knowledgeable men of honour and integrity in the judiciary.
Onoghen said adequate knowledge of law was the only antidote against the abuse of executive power and interpretation of law, warning judicial officers to refrain from commenting on matters of public interest on social media.
The CJN, who handed down the warning at the first biannual lecture of Lagos State judiciary at Lagos City Hall, also admonished judges to ensure the removal of their personal information online.
He spoke at the first bi-annual lecture of the Lagos State Judiciary held at the Lagos City Hall on the theme: “Judicial Standards, Integrity, Respect and Public Perception: A Comparative Analysis From Independence In 1960 Into The Present Millennium.”
Represented by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the CJN lamented the politicisation of the appointment of judges, lamenting that there is sharp deviation from the system inherited from the British, which is such that the whole of the Judiciary is dependent upon the practising lawyers for its personnel.
According to him: “We have inherited the British Judicial system along with conservative tradition. My plea is that we must free ourselves from this conservatism and build a Judiciary having not only the will but also the intellectual capability to contribute to our national development; in order to meet with the country’s efforts to meet the challenges posed by rapid social, economic, technological and political developments of the present time.
“Corruption, incompetence and delays in the dispensation of justice are some of the identified enemies of judicial integrity. These should be addressed if the judiciary is to earn the respect of citizens and litigants. While “an incompetent judge is a misfit, a corrupt judge is a disgrace to his peers or of course to our noble profession.”
Speaking, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was Chairman of the lecture, said in view of the strategic role played by judicial officers in the country, it was important for them to always be above board and uphold ethical standards.
Represented by Special Assistant to the President on Economic and Financial Crimes, Mr Biodun Aikomo, Osinbajo added: “Judges must be beyond reproach; they must be above board; they must abide by ethics and standards of the profession and dispense justice without rightly.”
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, in his remarks, said the major reforms being implemented in both judiciary and security sectors in the State were targeted at creating a sound pedestal for residents to be productive and in turn boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state.