Tanko Muhammad: Judiciary’s Timely Intervention Saved Democracy From Collapse

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Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has said Nigeria’s democracy would have been truncated, if not for the timely intervention of the judiciary.

Justice Muhammad, at the opening ceremony of the 2021 All Nigeria Judges’ Conference for courts of superior records, holding at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja, said greater effort is needed on the part of the judiciary to put the country on the right track

“I make bold to state further that, but for the timely intervention of the Nigerian Judiciary, our present democratic status would have probably collapsed and fallen like a pack of ill-arranged cards,” the CJN stated.

In view of the constitutional role of the judiciary in nation building, Justice Muhammad, however admonished judicial officers to redouble their efforts to surmount the enormous challenges ahead.

“Greater effort is required on our part to demonstrate our sincerity of purpose to the public who are our primary constituents and assessors.

“It is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure a continuous independent, strong and respectable judiciary for the impartial administration of justice.

“All judicial officers must actively participate in establishing, maintaining, enforcing and observing high standards of conduct so that the integrity and respect for the independence of the judiciary is sustained” the CJN said.

He posited that the theme of the Conference: “Promoting Judicial Excellence in the Administration of Justice” adequately addresses the aspiration of all stakeholders in the administration of justice and high standards of adjudication which Nigerians expect.

The judiciary, he said, has performed creditably well, having exhibited considerable patriotism to the Nigerian state.

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“We must rise to the challenge and restore public confidence in our judicial system by desisting from giving incessant ex-parte orders that have portrayed the judiciary in bad light. “We have taken steps at the National Judicial Council to address the issue of granting incessant ex-parte applications and will continue to ensure that judicial officers carry out their duties in line with the Code of Conduct for judicial officers.”

Without appearing to contradict himself, the CJN yielded to the fact that “it may be difficult for the judiciary to be impartial and objective in a democracy where it remains financially tied to the Executive”.

“It is trite that the foundation of impartiality is independence,” stressing that the issue of judiciary funding has continued to pose a serious challenge to the institution.

While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for obeying the constitution in relation to the funding of federal judiciary, he however, said, “I hereby report on a sad note that very few states have implemented the agreement entered into in June “.

“While the constitution specifically mandates that all monies due to the judiciary should be given to the heads of courts, such provisions are complied with more in breach than obedience.

“Majority of the Heads of Courts still go cap in hand to the governors to beg for what is constitutionally due to them, ‘’ he stated.

He therefore urged the state governors to emulate the federal government by ensuring that Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is fully adhered to and implemented.

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