The Chief Justice Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has reiterated the judiciary’s determination not to be overwhelmed by the sentiments of the “mob” in their decisions.
Following the rulings on electoral disputes, which led to the sacking of some governors and lawmakers, many have accused judges of bias.
But speaking at the opening of the special session of the 2023/2024 legal year and the swearing-in of 58 newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Ariwoola asked judges to remain firm.
He said, “I expect every judicial officer to work very hard and also be very honest and courteous to the litigants, witnesses and members of the bar, and discharge all your judicial functions with all the humility at your command.
“Even while doing this, it is still necessary to have at the back of your minds that public opinions, sentiments or emotions can never take the place of the law in deciding the cases that come before you.
“The law remains the law, no matter whose interest is involved. In all we do, as interpreters of the law, we should endeavour to severe the strings of emotion from logic and assumption from fact.
“We should never be overwhelmed by the actions or loud voices of the mob or crowd and now begin to confuse law with sentiment or something else in deciding our cases.
“Nevertheless, unnecessary and unwarranted utterances are bound to embarrass not only others, but the Judge himself; thus what should be asked, should be asked, and what should not be asked, should be avoided.”
The CJN pledged to his commitment to safeguard the rule of law, the holistic independence of the judiciary and the trust and confidence of the public.
The CJN further assured that soon the apex court would enjoy its full complement of 21 justices to break the jinx of its inability to meet the constitutional requirement.
He disclosed that the efforts of the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO), which was inaugurated in 2018 by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice W.S.A Onnoghen, to fast-tracking the trial of corruption and financial related crimes in the country, has seen the 10 convictions by the ICPC and 1,094 by the EFCC in the 2022/2023 period.
He said the Supreme Court received 1,271 cases comprising motions and appeals between September 12, 2022 and July 11, 2023.
Out of these, the apex court heard 388 political appeals, 215 criminal appealed and 464 civil appeals, while it also considered a total of 49 criminal motions, 153 civil motions, and 2 political motions.
He said within the same period, the apex court delivered a total of 251 judgments, out of which 125 were political appeals, 81 were civil appeals and 45 were criminal appeals and 91 rulings.