The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has challenged judges and lawyers to go on individual self-cleansing and do everything possible to rid the law profession of bad eggs.
Justice Muhammad said that judges cannot take the lead with the issuance of reckless ex-parte orders while lawyers too cannot take the lead with the filing of frivolous suits and forum shopping.
The CJN issued the challenge on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf as the substantive Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) judiciary.
“An occasion like this may be auspicious for self-assessment. It is by coincidence that this event comes at a time the Nigerian Bar Association is holding its 61st Annual General Conference tagged: “TAKING THE LEAD”.
“The legal profession should indeed take the lead in all human affairs. However, the lead is at a price.
“We cannot take the lead when our courts issue ex-parte orders recklessly. We cannot take the lead when many litigants with the support of their counsel engage in forum shopping.
“We cannot take the lead when counsel file a case before a court that they know lacks jurisdiction and the Judge proceeds to hear the case. We cannot take the lead when counsel files frivolous cases in our courts just for nuisance value or to buy time.
“Administration of justice is the bedrock of not only democratic or civilized societies, but it also extends beyond the borders of civilized nations. No society can afford to discard the administration of justice.
“There is no regime in any country that can operate without a judiciary. No matter how primitive society is, it must have its own mechanism for the resolution of its disputes. Otherwise, that society will drift into anarchy, self-destruction, and extinction.
“We must not only do self-assessment, but we also need self-cleansing. All hands must, therefore, be on deck from both the Bar and the Bench to rid the legal profession of bad eggs.
“In recent times, I had cause, in a number of occasions to warn judges to desist from engaging themselves in unwholesome practices that will erode public confidence in the administration of justice.
“The rising number of cases filed in all our courts is a pointer that Nigerians have confidence in the justice system. The Bar and the Bench must guard that confidence jealously.
“The legal profession is the building under which we are sheltered. If we fold our hands and watch others destroy it or we participate in the destruction, it will collapse on us. We will then have no roof over our heads.
“We are grateful to God, the Almighty that we have just witnessed the swearing-in of the substantive Chief Judge of the FCT, My Lord Hon. Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf.
“I congratulate the Hon. Chief Judge and pray to God to guide, protect and assist him in the discharge of his duty as head of court.
“As head of court, your burden becomes heavier. You should, therefore, take charge and ensure that you are just and fair to your brother Judges, the management, staff, and most importantly to the litigants,” the CJN said.