Thursday, November 20, 2014 6:45 pm
Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar on Thursday bowed out of office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria following her attainment of the retirement age of 70 years.
Her successor, Justice Mahmud Mohammed was sworn into office today as the new CJN following his confirmation by the Senate as required by the law.
At a valeditory session held at the Supreme Court in her honor, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), poured encomiums on Justice Mukhtar and eulogized her commitment to constitutionalism, rule of law and democratic ethos and charged political gladiators to play by the rules, eschew bitterness and undue heating up of the polity.
“Scrupulous adherence to the rules coupled with the exercise of restraint on the part of our politicians and their supporters would create the requisite conducive atmosphere for our democracy to thrive”, the AGF said.
Chief Folake Solanke (SAN), who spoke on behalf of the Body of Senoir Advocates of Nigeria said, there is no need for state Chief Judges to bow while greeting their state governors, adding that she is always embarrassed and distressed whenever she sees pictures of Chief Judges bowing before governors.
She made a case for the financial independence of the judiciary, with funding channeled directly to it from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under Section 167 of the constitution.
Commenting on corruption in the judiciary, Solanke called on judges to live up to the meaning of the appellation, ‘honourable’ in order to stop allegations of corruption against judicial officers.
She said Justice Aloma Mukhtar should be commended for the level of cleansing achieved during her tenure as CJN, even as she stressed the need for consistency in the judgments of the Supreme Court.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Augustine Allegeh (SAN) called for total overhaul and re-organisation of the Nigerian Armed Forces to enable it properly defend the country from internal and external aggression.
The NBA boss said, it appears the military is not equipped and empowered to adequately defend the country, adding that the annexation and renaming of some towns in the North Eastern states was an assault to the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
The NBA, he said is calling on the federal government to equip the Nigerian Army and inject human and material resources with a view to making the military function better and responsive to national security incidents and emergencies.
He also stated that the security challenges confronting the country threatens its democracy and economic development, which he said must be addressed for a credible elections in 2015.
Responding, Justice Aloma Mukhtar noted that she ensured that every judge that was investigated and sanctioned during her tenure was given fair hearing.
She said appointments in the judiciary were based on merit, competence and that they are always done with transparency, adding also that, “New Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council guidelines that will enhance the process of appointments and will ensure higher efficiency in the system have come into effect from 3rd November, 2014 under her watchful eyes.
“I earnestly desired to leave a better and stronger judiciary than I met it, standards needed to be raised and equality of citizens needed to be assured, so that every citizen of the country will restore his faith and trust in the judiciary. The fear of God has been my guiding principle”, she said