Nigeria doomed without rule of law – CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has said that the country was doomed without the rule of law, charging judicial officers to remain steadfast and committed in the build-up to the next general election in 2019.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen,

Justice Onnoghen made the call yesterday, during the commissioning of an ultra-modern Court of Appeal Complex, in Calabar, Cross River State.

The CJN, accompanied by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa and Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, told judges to remain firm no matter whose ox is gored and always be mindful of the fact that the society depends on judges and the decision they make.

He said: “I use this opportunity to still call on judicial officers in the country to remain steadfast to their oath of office, the constitution of the country and continue to remember that without the rule of law, the society is doomed.

“Hold firm to the wheels of justice and ensure that when cases are placed on a scale, whichever weighs more should be where the judgment should go.

It does not matter whose ox is gored because the society depends on us and the decision you have to take. The society survives because you are courageous enough to tell whoever is wrong that he or she is wrong.

“Politicians are warming up with all sort of gimmicks, tactics and plans, all judicial officers should be ready to do justice to all manner of persons without fear or ill will because the public solely depends on their decisions.”

Speaking further, he said the edifice is poignant for him because as a young lawyer, he travelled to Enugu for several cases from Calabar because of the absence of an Appeal Court in Calabar and he can recollect that a number of lawyers had accidents and died on the journeys to Enugu noting that the presence of the court in Calabar will help mitigate such.

On his part, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, who spoke on behalf of the profession, commended the judiciary for standing firm and helping to shape the country through its decisions over time which has helped prevent anarchy.

He emphasised that the best arm of government was the judiciary and its courage, intelligence and hard work had continued to sustain the country.

He said without an independent judiciary to enforce the rule of law, it will not be long before elected officers cease to remain in office.

“By sound judgments, the judges and justices have immortalized themselves. The monuments that we build will all one day be erased even this Court of Appeal will one day cease to be. There is no structure standing in the country today that will not one day be demolished but not the judgments of our court.

“The decisions of our courts are shaping the country and by these, the judges have demonstrated their capacity and disposition to save the country from anarchy. They are proving that that it is indeed the third arm of government,” he said.

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