Ahead of the 2015 general elections, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, yesterday, warned members of the bench across the federation to distance themselves from political associations.
The CJN, who gave the warning while declaring open the 2014 Annual Conference for the Justices of the Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday, stressed that the code of conduct for judicial officers forbids judges from frolicking with political parties.
He said it was the only way to ensure that the dignity and credibility of the judiciary are not in any way tinted on account of any suspicion.
Besides, the CJN lamented that the judiciary had been bedeviled by accusations of conflicting decisions delivered by the Court of Appeal particularly in seemingly straightforward issues.
He said: “When we are able to dispense justice without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, only then will we secure the confidence of the average citizen in the justice system and by extension support a political space of peace and stability.
“My lords here present, let me draw your attention to the provision of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers which cautions us to shun political associations.
“I dare say this singular act can ensure that the dignity and credibility of the Judiciary are not in any way tinted on account of any suspicion.
“As a corollary to this, I must also urge you to ensure that there is a return to certainty in the adjudication of cases heard by panels of this court”.
Justice Mohammed noted that “All too often, the judiciary has been confronted with accusation of conflicting decisions delivered by the Court of Appeal particularly in seemingly straightforward issues.
“Conflicting judgments of various divisions of the Court of Appeal are not only undesirable but the result may manifest in a miscarriage of justice and ultimately loss of public confidence in the judiciary.
“Conflicting judgments also lead to accusations of improper considerations and corrupt practices. I need not remind us of the corrosive effect that this has had on the judiciary and its estimation in the eyes of the public.
“I am sure you will agree with me that this issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Legal certainty, as you all know, is a key tenet of a robust judiciary that is worth its name.
“All the Justices of the Court of Appeal must, therefore, carefully consider the decisions of other panels of the court in order to ensure that there is uniformity and certainty in its pronouncements.
“While we seek to protect the sanctity of the temple of justice, I must stress that justice delayed is justice denied. This is more so where the liberty of a citizen is at stake.
“The judiciary must begin to see the time limit provided by the constitution and other rules of courts as minimum standards which must be religiously adhered to”.