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New FCT judges: To whom much is given…

The attainment of justice represents one of the enduring promises of constitutional democracy. And the right to a fair trial is perhaps the most fundamental…

The attainment of justice represents one of the enduring promises of constitutional democracy. And the right to a fair trial is perhaps the most fundamental tenet of constitutional democracy which has been recognised as a universal human right.

This promise was again given when the ranks of the High Court of the FCT was swelled by the recent appointment of 12 new judges by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.

The task of establishing an efficient judiciary requires the appointment and retention of competent and upright judges who will be challenged and encouraged by the proper balance of discipline in order to remain faithful to the ideals of justice.

Critics have alleged that Nigeria’s judiciary has been placing emphasis on nepotism or favouritism over competence, but from the calibre of the new appointees, a pathway to future judicial malfeasance and miscarriage of justice has been clearly avoided.

Government must particularly act in a manner that suggests it is serious about the independence of the judiciary. The judiciary, on its part, should continuously discharge its important tasks of fairly and impartially adjudicating disputes, protecting citizens’ rights and checking the excesses of both the executive and the legislature.

But the judiciary cannot fairly and efficiently dispense justice if Nigerians, especially the elite, continue the charade of masquerading as champions of liberty and defenders of judicial independence while they continue to undermine the ability of courts to effectively secure fair trial through undue interference, intimidation and manipulation.

The major obstacles to the administration of justice have been identified to include inadequate funding of judicial institutions, poor and inadequate physical facilities, shortage of and obsolete equipment, shortage of and inadequate utilisation of staff, inadequate or total lack of training, poor conditions of service, delay and congestion in courts, dishonest practices and corruption, culturally incompatible laws and procedures and lack of adequate information systems.

We thus pray that the new judges will continue to perform their primary duty of hearing cases in different parts of the territory as demanded by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Our newly sworn FCT judges should always be aware that their actions in the court will be under scrutiny; they must exemplify the best and most just virtues and not succumb to the despicable belief that amassing wealth is more than anything else. They should ensure that they are not influenced by politicians.

The bottom line though, would be the quality of the justice they would bring to the table, and whether it shall make a difference.

This will in the end justify the merit in their appointments.

 

Dr Jumai Ahmadu is the acting Director, Reform Coordination and Service Improvement of the FCTA.

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