The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has asked Nigerians to petition any judicial officer involved in corruption or any form of unprofessional conduct in any part of the country to the National Judicial Council, NJC.
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, who by virtue of his position, heads the NJC, which has disciplinary powers over judges, also warned politicians to desist from using the mass media to smear the image of the nation’s judiciary and that of hardworking and honest judicial officers.
A statement by his media aide, Mr. Awassam Bassey, disclosed that the CJN was provoked by a publication in a national daily, on May 20, entitled: “Anambra Central: Judiciary Robbed Me of My Mandate – Ekwunife.”
The statement read: “The interviewee, Senator Uche Ekwunife, accused the judiciary of robbing her of her mandate in the 2015 Anambra Central Senatorial Election through nullification.”
Justice Onnoghen stressed that Nigerians should learn to take advantage of institutions that have been established to handle allegations of corruption and unprofessional conduct by judicial officers, including cases of judicial fraud which he said the Senator cited as the reason for the loss of her mandate in the law courts.
“The Honourable Chief Justice advises against individuals dragging the name of the judiciary in the mud through unsubstantiated allegations in the mass media and advises such individuals to employ well-established institutions and avenues to petition any judicial officer who engages in corruption and unprofessional conduct.
“Therefore, in the interest of the generality of Nigerians, and the on-going war against corruption, the Chief Justice of Nigeria calls on Senator Ekwunife to petition the judges she accuses of corruption and unprofessional conduct.
“The Hon CJN assures Nigerians that if anyone has evidence against any corrupt judicial officer, and such a person brings forward the necessary documents before the National Judicial Council, the concerned judicial officer or officers will be investigated and where found liable, dealt with in accordance with the law.
“At the same time, the CJN wishes to use this medium to warn politicians to desist from using the mass media to smear the good image of the nation’s judiciary in general, and the hardworking and honest judicial officers in particular.”
Judiciary under threat Meanwhile, the CJN,yesterday, said the nation’s judiciary was under threat. Justice Onnoghen, who stated this at a thanksgiving service held in his honour at the Methodist Church Nigeria, Abuja Diocese, decried that judicial officers in the country were being castigated and accused of corrupt practices by agents of the Federal Government and politicians, without granting them the opportunity to be heard.
Onnoghen thanked God for making it possible for him to clinch the judiciary top job, despite the delay that preceded his emergence as the substantive CJN. He implored Nigerians to continually pray for the survival of the judiciary, adding that the leadership of the country would only get it right through strict adherence to the constitution and the rule of law.
“I did not set out to be a Judge, but today I am a judge by divine intervention. It is the Lord’s doing, mine is to follow. My prayer is that God should help me and should not let me down. “The judiciary is under threat. Judges and judicial officers, including myself are being castigated without giving opportunity to be heard, but God knows our heart.”