Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), says the Supreme Court of Nigeria is the busiest and most hardworking apex court in the world.
Speaking during the 2018/2019 legal year, Muhammad said the supreme court entertained 1,874 cases of which 788 were civil, 262 criminal, and 65 political.
“It is on record that we work from Monday to Friday every week: on Wednesdays we do Chamber sitting to consider non-contentious matters while we deliver judgments and rulings on Fridays,” he said.
He urged the public to embrace alternative dispute resolution to free the courts of unnecessary overstretching of their human and material resources.
“At the Supreme Court of Nigeria, we are totally independent in the way we conduct our affairs, especially in our judgments, and we don’t pander to any body’s whims and caprices,” he said.
“The only deity to be feared is the Almighty God. We will never be subservient to anybody, no matter his position in the society.”
Abubakar Malami, minister of justice, said the new legal year should be used to reflect on the achievements and limitations of the last one.
“It should be a time to draw up modalities on how best to foster the desired growth in our Judicial System, and affords the Bench and the Bar the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment towards upholding the canons of the rule of law by adherence and devoted practice of law and justice,” he said.
“This practice will go a long way to reinforce the commitment of the Judiciary in sustaining our democracy and in fostering the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.”
Malami said his address should serve as a clarion call on the court of appeal and to the apex court to be courageous in delivering landmark decisions in favour of justice, equity and fairness.
“The court should not be seen to bow to the pressures of different political actors, being the last hope of every litigant: irrespective of any irregularity that might have occurred in the course of dispensing justice by different election tribunals,” he said.
“It is important that this court as a final arbiter remains just and resolute in resolving all issues presented before it”.
He said in a deep reflection of the last legal year, it is worthy of note that administration of justice received boosts in the areas of anti-corruption policy drive.
“The drive successfully introduced zero tolerance to corrupt practices, and entrenched integrity and ethical conduct in the task of governance,” he said.
“The federal government whistleblowing policy has yielded several billions of Naira recovered from tax evaders and public officials.
“It has also led to the signing/ratification of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) that ensures transparency, accountability and the Promulgation of Executive Order 8 which is the Voluntary Offshore Regularization Scheme (VOARS).
Paul Usoro, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said some members of the inner bar sometimes forget that the rank of SAN was best worn with humility.
“Humility in general terms exalts a person; it stands you out and elevates you, it is the humility in you that will oil your words and speeches in a way that makes them soothing and respectful to everyone,” he said.
“It is the humility in you that would persuade you to share your deserved front-row seats with members of the outer bar who are not entitled to the front row seats as of right when you are in court: but who are unfortunately consigned to stand in a crowded and sometimes, stuffy courtroom because all seats are occupied.”
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