The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, in Calabar charged judicial officers in the country to remain steadfast strengthening the rule of law even as he emphasised that the nation risked doom if the rule of law was not adhered to in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
Onnoghen, who gave the charge while speaking at the commissioning/opening of the ultra-modern Court Of Appeal Complex, Calabar, urged judges in the country to remain firm no matter whose ox is gored and be mindful of the fact that the society depended so much on justices and the decision that they make.
The Chief Justice who was accompanied by the President of the Court Of Appeal, Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa as well as the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, stressed,”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 that decision you have to take. The society survives because you are courageous enough to tell whoever is wrong that you are wrong”.
Onnoghen has advised judicial officers to be fair, strive at all cost to dispense justice to all irrespective of who is involved in matters brought before the court, warning the justices to be wary of politicians who may resort to the use of all sorts of gimmicks and tactics to ensure that judges dispense judgement according to their biddings.
He said he was elated by the complex 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 could recollect that a number of lawyers had accidents and died on the journeys to Enugu and the presence of the court in Calabar will help mitigate these.
In a swift reaction to the, Justice Onnoghen’s speech, former Minister for Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Senator Kanu Agabi who spoke on behalf of the legal profession lauded the
judiciary for standing firm and helping shape the country through their decisions over time which has helped prevent anarchy.
Agabi claimed that the best arm of the government is the judiciary and their courage, intelligence and hard work had continued to sustain the country, stressing that without an independent judiciary to enforce the rule of law, it will not be long before the elected officers cease to remain in office.
In his words, “by sound judgments, the judges and justices have immortalised 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 and 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 is indeed the third arm of government”.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the president of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa said the edifice which was supposed to take twelve months, took twelve years and the challenges encountered in the course of constructing the facility could make volumes of reading materials.
Bulkachuwa lauded the judicial officers for their steadfastness despite the challenges of Operating in the previous building particularly when it was gutted by fire and expressed appreciation to the former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke for donating the parcel of land for the facility.
Friday Nwagbara, Calabar