Refrain from granting frivolous injunctions, ex-CJN warns judges
The ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has cautioned justices and judges handling election matters to show a high level of independence and not bow to external pressure and influences in the deciding electoral matters.
Muhammad, who noted that Nigeria’s development is tied to a sustainable democracy, which is anchored on a credible electoral process, stressed that the judiciary plays a crucial role just as the electoral umpire in ensuring a free, credible and peaceful election.
To this end, he warned judges against being partisan, or allowing themselves to be used by politicians for their selfish end and thereby ridiculing the judiciary.
“In the light of the above and as we approach the election year, I must emphasize that the judiciary must not be drawn into the black hole of political expediency as judges are not willing tools to be exploited by the whims and caprices of politicians.
“ However, as justices and judges, you must refrain from granting frivolous injunctions, remain impartial and most importantly, shun any form of inducement,” Muhammad said.
Before declaring open a two-day workshop on capacity building for judges on pre-election and election matters, the ex- CJN noted that litigations have characterised election processes in the country right from the conduct of party primaries for the election of candidates to the main election.
He said aggrieved politicians or those who lost out would approach the court to intervene and would want corrupt judges to do their bidding by filing frivolous applications and forum shopping.
He said apart from being focused and committed to their job, judges need to constantly equip themselves with the rudiments of the law to excel.
He thanked the Attorneys General Alliance (AGA) Africa and the National Judicial Institute (NJI) for putting the workshop together to build the capacity of judges in the area of pre-election and election litigations.
Earlier, the Administrator of the NJI, Justice Salisu Abdullahi, observed that with the passage of the new Electoral Act, 2022 and also considering that Nigeria is a developing nation with an evolving democracy, some provisions of the new Act will translate into petitions or matters that will come before the courts for adjudication.
He explained that how judges handle such cases could either strengthen public confidence in the ability of the judiciary to do justice, uphold the rule of law and be fair to all persons; or impugn the integrity which the judiciary holds so dearly.
“Distinguished participants, it goes without saying that, a lucid understanding of the provisions of the law, with particular reference to electoral matters, would aid in obviating inscrutability, opaqueness and technicalities which constitute the bane of justice,” he said.
In a welcome address, the representative of AGA-Africa, Mr Marcus Green said judges play a crucial role in ensuring fair and fair elections, hence the need to ensure that they possess the requisite knowledge of what needed to be done to achieve justice at all times.
The goal, he said, is that citizens have confidence in the rule of law and in the electoral processes, while the role of judges is to deliver justice without fear or favour.