The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen has asserted that a corrupt judge is not only a disgrace to judiciary but a disaster to the course of justice and the country as a whole.
He revealed that the National Judicial Commission, NJC, through its new reforms had commission, NJC, through its new reforms had commenced process of ridding the judiciary of those he described as bad eggs, stressing that the prestige of the judiciary is an essential part of Nigeria’s system of government where the judiciary functions independently.
The CJN, who was speaking on the need for judicial officers to always live above board, noted that corruption should not be seen only as an act of bribe taking but every other action a judge takes to pervert justice.
He said this on Monday at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Refresher Course for Judges and Kadis, held at the National Judicial Institute, NJI in Abuja.
“My lords, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you will all agree with me that a corrupt judge is not only a disgrace to the Bench and the noble profession, but also a disaster to the course of justice and the nation.
“I must not fail to emphasis here that my definition of corruption is not limited to bribe-taking. but includes the giving of judgments or orders based on any consideration other than legal merit,” he added.
“He went on to state that part of the reforms initiated by him were aimed at tackling the worrisome issue of delay in justice delivery in the country, adding that Nigeria would soon begin to reap its fruits.
“I am confident that in due course of time, our efforts to rid the judiciary of questionable characters shall yield results.
“The designation of special courts to handle corruption cases is also a step in the right direction as lingering corruption cases will be expeditiously dispensed with. It will no longer be business as usual.
“The NJC however, will continually ensure, through rigorous screening and painstaking appointment procedures, that best materials, in terms of learning and character, get appointed to the Bench,” he added.
Onnoghen however used the occasion to call on governments, particularly at the state level to take the issue of funding seriously to ensure success of the reforms in the sector.
He disclosed that while the judiciary at the federal level enjoys full financial independence, the same cannot be said of the state judiciaries, adding that “the funding of the judiciary is crucial as it is the most important index for assessing its independence.
“The issue of adequate funding at the state level is one of the greatest challenges confronting the Judiciary of this nation.
“It is imperative that the applicable provision of the 1999 Constitution be duly amended to solve problems of State judiciaries. It is my hope that within the limits of our limited resources, the judiciary will continuously strive to achieve its constitutional mandate,” the CJN added.