Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday inaugurated Justice Walter Onnoghen as the new Chief Justice of Nigeria with a call on him to restore confidence in the country’s judiciary.
“The mere perception of judicial malfeasance poisons the waters of justice let alone the reality, while delays in the administration of justice often defeats the end of justice,?” Osinbajo told Onnoghen.
The inauguration was a befitting end for the citizens’ insistence on the confirmation of Onnoghen as the substantive CJN. But that Onnoghen emerged as the CJN after this campaign imposes on him the necessity of justifying the citizens’ confidence by ensuring that justice is dispensed by the judiciary at all times.
The acting president noted that Onnoghen came when all arms of government had suffered a loss of respect of the people .
He said: “When lords and justices of our courts are called upon to resuscitate that confidence that the people ?of this nation want to have in the institutions of government and indeed in the judiciary, the responsibility is an awesome one. It is the closest that man serves as the Almighty God having powers of lives, livelihoods and futures, having power to give and indeed to take away power, and authority to supervise all men and women to whom our law and constitution have given the position of judgeship.
“Since we do not force men and women to be judges, they voluntarily take on the position of high priests in the temple of justice. They will of course be held to a much higher standard, a much higher moral and ethical standard than the rest of us. They must not only be seen to be just, they must be just indeed.
“Yesterday I had a discussion with President Buhari, not only did he extend his personal warm wishes and congratulations, he asked that I personally convey that to you, and I do so now.
“I congratulate you on behalf of Mr. President, all members of your family and the entire judiciary. I believe that the choice that the people of this nation have made is a right one indeed and I pray that you will leave up to all of the expectations.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki who fielded questions after the inauguration said: “We want to see a judiciary that will also cooperate with other arms of government in doing a lot of reforms. And I think he has about four years, and that gives time for a lot of reforms in the judiciary.
“I am confident that with time on his side and his commitment to some of the issues he has talked about in trying to ensure that the judiciary is independent, a lot is expected of him.
We wish him all the best.
“The same way, we need to give support, for example, to the constitutional review ?that will also address some of the issues that will make the judiciary more efficient.”
Earlier in the Council Chamber, Justice Onnoghen promised to adhere to the rule of law in the dispensation ?of justice throughout his tenure.
“As the head of the judiciary, I assure you that from the past experience, the key to everything in a democratic setting is adherence to the rule of law. There lies the solution to our problems. Let us try to encourage the independence of the judiciary so as to ensure the rule of law,” he said.
Onnoghen attributed the relative peace despite the controversy which trailed his confirmation, to Nigerians ?who kept faith and prayed without ceasing, including fasting to ensure his inauguration as substantive CJN.
“To Nigerians of all walks of life, of all faiths, who have kept faith with this, who had prayed without ceasing, some had even fasted, I say thanks very much.
“I urge you to continue to pray for this country because if you notice, there has been peace. All that pressure that was mounting everything just died down and that is to the glory of God. I’m eternally grateful to Nigerians.
“I’m very much grateful to God and Mr. President and to the Senate for finding me worthy. I had earlier on November 10, 2016 been sworn in as the acting Chief Justice by the president, today happens to be the final milestone and I am very much grateful.
Justice Onnoghen also solicited the cooperation of all Nigerians to enable him to carry out the measures he has already initiated ?to strengthen the judicial system.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State urged Onnoghen to reform and reposition the judiciary as well as defend its independence.
Source: The Guardian