26th September, 2011
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday asked Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher, the new Justice of Nigeria to tackle the problem of growing crisis of integrity and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary as protector of their rights and fundamental human rights.
The President was speaking when he swore in Justice Musdapher as the 12th Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa this morning. The new CJN has been occupying the office in Acting capacity for about a month now. â€œThere is no doubt about the need to embark on comprehensive reforms in the Judiciary to enhance capacity, efficiency, and productivity as well as the perception and confidence of the general public in the ability of the judiciary to dispense justiceâ€, said the President.
While noting that the judiciary has been playing its role as â€œa pillar of our Constitutional democracyâ€ the President noted that the judiciary is also faced with a lot of problems. Some of the problems, he listed to include slow dispensation of justice, quality and efficiency of the administration of justice with regard to procedures and what he described as a much bigger challenge â€œwidespread perception of a growing crisis of integrity within the judiciaryâ€, as the CJN himself admitted at a recent public function.
â€œThis is something that should be carefully addressedâ€, the President told the new CJN.â€œThe reputation of judges, the public perception of their commitment and integrity, is central to the efficacy of the courts to uphold the law and dispense justice. Judges are expected to be impartial, independent-minded and fair to all concerned. A partisan judge compromises his or her oath of office and acts unfairly. A corrupt judge disgraces the Bench on which he or she sits and the title that he wears.
Judges should have power, and they do, but just as the Executive and the Legislature must not abuse their powers, judges are also expected to be above boardâ€, said the President. â€œYour main task therefore should be to further enhance the dignity of the courts, for on that foundation rests the integrity of our Constitutional Democracy.
Every one of us must wake up every morning, confident that the judges of Nigeria will always protect our freedomsâ€, he added.President Jonathan also tasked judges to cooperate with the new CJN to make his tenure successful while he advised them against in-fighting, personality clashes, and needless acrimony which he said â€œcan only serve the unwanted purpose of bringing the entire institution to ridiculeâ€.â€œNigerian judges themselves must see the need to set their institution on a path of renewalâ€ said Jonathan.
The President also indicated the readiness of the Executive Arms of government to help in the reform while asking other Judges to cooperate with the new CJN. He cited the two recent bills he has signed into law as evidence of his commitment to the reforms of the judicial system.He also said he will liaise with State Governors on the full implementation of the section of the Constitution that makes the judiciary self accounting and the National Assembly on the reforms needed to restore confidence of the Nigerian public in the judiciary.
â€œTo this end, this administration will give full support to your Lordshipâ€™s Reform Initiatives and necessary funding will be made available.â€œMy Lords, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I will personally liaise with the National Assembly to support constitutional amendments necessary to further ensure the independence of the Judiciary and improve Judicial efficiency. Efforts would also be made to liaise with the State Governors to ensure that â€œstate judiciaries are also adequately provided for by giving full effect to the provision of S.121 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The President noted that the new CJN came into office with â€œa very rich and impressive legal background which eminently qualifies him for this appointmentâ€™.â€œIt is my hope that your Lordship will steer the ship of the Nigerian Judiciary to the best of your ability at this moment when our dear nation and the Judiciary especially, is faced with daunting challengesâ€, he added. The new CJN was also decorated with the national honour of Grand Commander of the Niger at the occasion.
The President also sworn in Architect Darius Ishiaku, a ministerial nominee from Taraba State who was screened and approved for appointment alongside the CJN last week as a minister. The swearing in was attended by other Justices of the Supreme Court, David Mark, the President of the Senate, Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of House of Representatives, the Governor of Edo and Jigawa States and members of the Federal Executive Council.