Chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on Monday hinted that he would use the big hammer on the head of any rogue judicial officer as he formally kick-started the engagement of the third arm of government in the 2023 electoral process. In a solemn but firm and stern voice, he said “I will
Chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on Monday hinted that he would use the big hammer on the head of any rogue judicial officer as he formally kick-started the engagement of the third arm of government in the 2023 electoral process.
In a solemn but firm and stern voice, he said “I will not condone any act of recklessness, abuse of power and public trust. This is a rare privilege and your lordships must give a good account of yourselves.”
307 judicial officers would preside over petitions directly linked to the conduct of the February 2023 elections across the 36 states of the federation.
President of the court of Appeal, Justice Monika Dongban-Mensem was empowered by section 285(2) and (3) of the 1999 constitution and section 130 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to set up election tribunals, Justice Ariwoola’s swearing-in ceremony was seen by judicial and political pundits as “putting a stamp of an important arm of government on the 2023 general elections”
At the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Ariwoola advised judicial officers to conduct themselves professionally.
His words: “Your lordships should count yourselves worthy to be so entrusted with this humongous responsibility of deciding the fate of those that would be contesting elections into various political offices in the country in 2023,” he said, adding; “As the chief justice of Nigeria, I will not condone any act of recklessness, abuse of power and public trust. This is a rare privilege and your lordships must give a good account of yourselves.”
Justice Ariwoola said although judges do not possess supernatural powers, the public will expect them to do the impossible as they preside over the election petition tribunals.
“There is virtually nothing that has not been seen or heard before, but you should be ready to see and hear more, especially as you begin to adjudicate on election matters in 2023,” he said.Even though I rejoice with you on this very important appointment, I still sympathise with you for the many troubles, inconveniences, verbal assaults, and all sorts of uncomplimentary remarks that will be made about you by various litigants in the course of your adjudication, especially if your conscience is not controlling your conduct.
“We are all humans, no doubt, but you display the humanism in you by doing those extraordinary things that people would ordinarily say you cannot do. That is what distinguishes those with integrity and passion for success from those with unenviable pedigrees and dysfunctional moral compasses”, he stressed.
While discharging them to discharge their duty “with utmost sincerity, honesty and transparency”, he urged them to resist “sentiments, temptations, tribulations, intimidations, and even sheer blackmail” that they may encounter as judicial officers.
After the swearing-in ceremony, judges are expected to commence a capacity building workshop which will last four days at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.
In his remarks, Chairman , Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the workshop “could not have come at a better time”.
“It is exactly 109 days to the 2023 general election holding in two phases: national elections (presidential and national assembly holding on 25th February, 2023) and state elections (governorship and state assembly holding on 11th March, 2023).
“The election will be held in 1,491 constituencies made up of one presidential constituency, 28 governorship elections, 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies (house of representatives), and 993 state constituencies (state house of assembly).
“Most significantly, it is the first general election since the repeal of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and its re-enactment as the Electoral Act 2022.”