Ibekimi Oriamaja Reports
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), has warned politicians and the executive branch of government to refrain from actions that could undermine the judiciary and the nation’s democracy.
The CJN issued the warning while declaring open the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA -SPIDEL) 2022 Conference in Abuja.
Ariwoola, who was represented by Supreme Court Justice Uwani Abba Aji, accused politicians and the executive branch of undermining the rule of law, particularly as elections approached.
This conference is timely, and the theme is appropriate for the season and time of year. The electoral process has begun, and the elections in 2023 are just around the corner. We are fully aware that during this period, executives or those seeking and aspiring for political positions will not follow the rule of law, the Electoral Act, or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but will instead act on their whims and fancies in order to gain power,” said the acting CJN.
He went on to say that the “judiciary shall be at the center of this to equipoise the electoral players and further catalyze and administer justice, fairness, and equity.”
“underminers of judicial authority must understand that since the three arms of government, though separated, fitly fused and joined together to bring out the best in any government or democracy, undermining one arm or the other is to spell doom and anarchy for that government, even to the detriment of the underminers.”
In a keynote address, Supreme Court Justice Inyang Okoro considered disobedience of court orders as a direct affront to the judiciary or interference with the administration of justice.
“One of the dangers of undermining judicial authority is lack of confidence in the court system,” he said. “Nobody, whether government or citizen, is allowed to undermine an order of court or judgment.”
He suggested that disobeying court orders be made a criminal offence, different from the court’s power to punish an offender for contempt.
The theme of the conference, ‘The Undermining of Judicial Authority in Democracy,’ according to NBA-SPIDEL Chairman Monday Ubani, was chosen to highlight that the judiciary “has not been well-treated by the other arms” of government.
“In terms of obeying our courts’ judgments and orders, providing basic facilities for the efficient discharge of judicial functions, and generally caring for the welfare of judicial officers,” he explained.
“The judiciary has remained a poor cousin, a weeping and aggrieved sibling in a relationship of three brothers of equal age and status,” he claimed.
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