By Ebere Agozie
Abuja – The Nigerian Judiciary conducts its affairs independently and takes decisions on matters before it without any extraneous influence.
Justice Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, made this known on Monday at the special session to mark the beginning of the 2019 to 2020 legal year and swearing in of 38 distinguished lawyers newly conferred with the honour of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
“At the Supreme Court, 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.
“The only deity to be feared is the Almighty God. We will never be subservient to anybody, no matter his position in the society,’’ he said.
Also, Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice in his speech said that the new legal year should be used to reflect on the achievements and limitations of the last legal year.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Its 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) while speaking, said that 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.
“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”.
He said that it is no longer news that some law enforcement agencies seem to derive sadistic pleasure in locking up lawyers and imposing impossible bail conditions for their release.
“The practice of law has consequently become very dangerous and risky, it is now being criminalised by these agencies, all in an effort to demonise and humiliate lawyers and the legal profession,” he said.