CJN ushers in new legal year, urges respect for the law
The 2016/2017 Legal Year was ushered in last week with a clarion call by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, for respect for the rule of law.
The CJN in his comprehensive address, has charged judicial officers to adjudicate in a manner that was premised on the principles of Justice to save the judiciary from further ridicule in the eyes of the public.
At the ceremony that held within the Supreme Court premises, the CJN expressed concern that Nigerians were increasingly considering an alternative dispute resolution in order to engender more certainty to the resolution of their disputes.
His submission was not unconnected with the discordant tunes that characterised courts decisions and judgements in the recent times.
Although, he categorically named the Appeal Court in his speech, same controversies have also shrouded some judgements emanating from Federal High Courts, where conflicting decisions were dished by courts of equal jurisdictions across the country.
He said: “Several conflicting decisions were recklessly dished out by the Court of Appeal last year in appeals arising from various decisions of the Election Petitions Tribunals.
“Such decisions were made as the result of flagrant refusal of the Panels of the Court of Appeal involved, to be bound not only by its own decisions but also by the decisions of the Supreme Court.”
The Chief Justice of Nigeria aware that the recent drama has exposed the judiciary to ridicules, reminded judicial officers of the fundamental legal principle of Stare Decisis, as aptly presented by Professor Nwabueze, who stated that “only a court of law has the power and the right to say authoritatively and conclusively what the law is, and once a superior court of record has spoken, its pronouncement, however perverse or blatantly wrong it may appear to be, establishes the law unless and until it is reversed on appeal by a higher court.”
He added that in the light of the foregoing, he was of a firm conviction that every court in Nigeria is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court and should not graft a different outcome from those expressly laid down by the Supreme Court.
“Such departures from precedent therefore risk creating the type of confusion, which is inimical to the trust reposed in us by the people and we risk our reputations, our integrity and even our existence by such indiscipline,” he said.