Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Ibrahim Muhammad has asked judges not to condone injustice in the exercise of their powers and to keep the interest of the citizens at heart always.
Muhammed noted that democracy thrives where the fundamental principle of state and free and fair elections are guaranteed.
He stated that the Judiciary serves as the sole arm of government empowered under the Constitution to reconcile the interest of “the powerful” with those of “the voiceless poor”.
Muhammad spoke in Abuja on Monday at the opening ceremony of the 2019 refresher course for Judges and Kadis, held at the National Judicial Institute (NJI).
The Acting CJN said: “Our nascent democracy has to be nurtured, consolidated and developed even as we will be faced with the arduous task of adjudicating over election petitions as we are in an election year.
“We must be constantly reminded that democracy, in itself, is nothing if fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution of this nation cannot be readily determined in constitutional adjudication by a Judiciary manned by upright judicial officers.
“This is premised on the fact that, as the society depends on justice, those who are singularly advantaged to do justice to all manner of persons, must ensure that they themselves are standing erect far away from all manners of injustice.
“In this light, I must not fail to emphasise at this forum, that judges are enjoined to ensure the protection of constitutionally enshrined human rights of the citizens.
“Our institution, the Judiciary, is the only arm of government vested with such powers. The interest of the powerful must always be reconciled with those of the voiceless poor.
“This is a constitutional function which the courts in this country must continuously pursue. It is heart-warming that our courts have lived up to expectation in perilous times which our dear country has faced in the past and we must continue to do so.
“In addition, my lords, we must remain sensitive to the fact that the Constitution imposes on all of us obligations to interpret the law and adjudicate impartially.
“The courts must, at all times, be prepared to interpret the Constitution, relevant statutes and to serve as an arbiter to litigants at minimum costs.
“This process amongst others can rapidly enhance the true comprehension of our constitutional provisions as a step towards the identification of the grey areas requiring future amendments, modifications, alterations, and/or even complete deletion,” Muhammad said.
The Administrator of the NJI, Justice R. P. I. Bozimo, hailed the choice of the event’s theme: “Repositioning the Judiciary for better Justice delivery.”
She said the choice of them was informed by the institute’s conviction that judicial integrity and the rule of law form the core underlying principles of justice and the bedrock of democracy.
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