Judgments Are Based on Constitution, Not Public Opinion – CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has said public opinions, no matter how serious or weighty, cannot supersede the provisions of the country’s constitution in the determination of legal disputes in court.

The CJN said judges have an obligation to follow the law when deciding cases.

Justice Ariwoola stated this on Wednesday after swearing in 23 newly-appointed judges of the Federal High Court.

Among the new judges was the son of the CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola Jr.

The CJN, in his speech, told the new judges, “Several vitriolic attacks are regularly heaped on the judiciary; it is, however, crystal clear that public opinions, no matter how serious or weighty it might be, cannot override or supersede the constitution of the country which we apply in deciding each case.”

He stressed that the appointment of the judges was not to amass wealth, warning that any form of wrongdoing would not be condoned.

The CJN said the National Judicial Council would wield the big stick against any judge found wanting.

Ariwoola said: “Whatever wrongdoing that emanates from any form of indiscretion and abuse of office will, in like manner, be used to conscientise, chastise and thoroughly sanitise the same conscience that you may have refused to listen to.

“Appointment to the bench is not an appointment to wealth, vainglory, dishonest disposition or ostentatious lifestyle through corrupt acquaintances.

“The searchlight of the National Judicial Council beams brightly on all judicial officers across the country. The NJC should never, either by omission or commission, be mistaken for a toothless bulldog.

“It can bark fiercely and as well bite deeply and aggressively, too. Our radar is sophisticated enough to detect every form of corruption and wrongdoing by judicial officers; and we will not waste a moment in taking the necessary action to fish out the bad eggs.

“The remoteness of your location of adjudication can never blur our sight on you. We have put in place the right machinery to capture and document your conduct. So, be careful and take heed, or else, you may end up regretting ever being appointed a judicial officer. Though, we don’t wish you such, anyway!”

The CJN urged the judges to be honest while discharging their duties.

He added: “You must be impartial, fair to all, and apply justice in all your undertakings. The times that we are in, are quite perilous, so we need judicial officers who are calculative, honest, objective and dispassionate in all ramifications.

“Thus, your appointments to the bench at this crucial period of our national history are not by accident but by divine ordination.”