By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria,(CJN) Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, yesterday, maintained that corruption in the judiciary goes beyond bribe-taking, adding that it involves giving of judgements or orders based on considerations other than legal merit.
Onnoghen made this known at the 2018 Refresher Course for Judges and Kadis, with the theme: “Enhancing the Quality of Judicial Services”, held at National Judicial Institute NJI, Abuja.
In his speech, the CJN said that the National Judicial Counsel under his watch, would tackle the cankerworm head-on with a view to weeding out some “questionable characters” from the Bench.
“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 judgements or orders based on any consideration other than legal merit. It is gratifying to note however, that the NJC is already tackling this cankerworm head-on.
“The prestige of the Judiciary is indeed essential in a system of government such as ours in which the judiciary functions independently. The behavior of Judges is, in the circumstance, closely scrutinized to guarantee continued confidence in the integrity of the Courts.
“Consequently, the NJC under my watch has constituted the Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee, COTRIMCO, which has hit the ground running, to serve as a check on the excesses of some bad eggs amongst us.
“ I am confident that in due course of time, our efforts to rid the judiciary of questionable characters shall yield result”, the CJN added, saying the NJC would continually ensure “through rigorous screening and painstaking appointment procedures, that the best materials, in terms of learning and character, get appointed to the Bench.”
Going further, the CJN said, “It will no longer be business as usual.
I must state categorically however, lest I am accused of the fallacy of hasty generalisation, that the Judiciary in Nigeria is not inefficient. It is an established fact that the Judiciary in Nigeria is as good as the best anywhere in the world. Only few Judges are found wanting.
“The delay in our justice delivery system is of great concern to me as it must be to you all,” He added.
In her welcome address, the Administrator of the NJI, Justice R.P.I. Bozimo, said the course was imperative and relevant.
She added that the move strives to reposition the Nigerian Judiciary to effectively perform its statutory role and improve on the services rendered to litigants and the public at large.