CJN swears in 22 new Appeal Court justices, urges them to uphold integrity, justice

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has sworn in the 22 newly appointed justices of the Appeal Court, urging them to remain steadfast in their commitment to integrity and uphold the highest standards of justice in their duties within the hallowed halls of the judiciary.

The CJN called on the justices to recall their solemn oath, sworn to uphold the principles of the Almighty God and the Nigerian Constitution, and adhere to the sacred commitment by delivering justice to all Nigerians impartially, without fear or favour, and with the highest degree of integrity and fairness.

The new Justices are: Abdullahi Muhammad Liman from Nasarawa State; Abiodun Azeem Akinyemi from Ogun State; Olukayode Adegbola Adeniyi from Oyo State; Zainab Bage Abubakar from Kebbi State; Isaq Mohammed Sani from Kaduna State; Lateef Babajide Lawal-Akapo from Lagos State; and Ngozika U. Okaisabor from Imo State, respectively.

Others include Ruqayat Oremei Ayoola from Kogi State, Polycarp Terna Kwahar from Benue State, Fadawa Umaru from Borno State, Oyewumi Oyejoju Oyebiola from Oyo State, Ntong Festus Ntong from Akwa Ibom State, Nehizena Idemudia Afolabi from Edo State, and Nnamdi Okwy Dimgba from Abia State.

The rest are Abdu Dogo from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; Abdulazeez M. Anka from Zamfara State; Owibunkeonye Onwosi from Ebonyi State; Asma’u Akanbi-Yusuf from Kwara State; Victoria Toochukwu Nwoye from Anambra State; and Enenche Eleojo from Kogi State.

The CJN said: “It is a solemn pledge and commitment to good conduct in the course of your adjudication, especially as senior judicial officers in the appellate court. The number of justices that we have just sworn in today is quite unprecedented in the recent history of the Court of Appeal.

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“The last time we had a large number like this was on Monday, 28 June, 2021, when 18 justices were sworn in. That was preceded by that of Monday, 5th November,2012 when 12 justices were inaugurated.

“Today’s ceremony is an indication of the perilous times that we are currently in, which has resulted in an upsurge in litigation. Several unfathomable crimes are being committed in the country, aside from the usual political matters that have made litigations to go on alarming rise.

“No court in the land is spared of this litigation deluge, as it were. We are constantly on our toes, and the dockets are ever-increasing in response to the challenges of the time. This underscores the fact that Nigeria is fast emerging as a frontline crime-infested country that we all have to urgently curtail.

“The enormous task of cleaning the Augean stable rests squarely on Your Lordships. So, you must hastily fasten your belt and roll up your sleeves to face the challenges head-on. In other words, you should hit the ground speeding at a supersonic velocity and not just running.

“You must redouble your pace to catch up with the expectations of the sprawling community of litigants. As judicial officers, you have a divine mandate on earth that you must discharge with unveiled honesty and sincerity. You must give a good account of yourselves to justify your elevation to the Court of Appeal.

“In the next couple of months, we shall be having two governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States, respectively. As usual, the courts will be besieged with a plethora of petitions. It is our statutory duty to hear all matters that come before us and adjudicate according to the laws of the land.

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“We must not falter, and we must not tread the path of infamy. Yes, it is true that we cannot please everyone through our actions and work, but with the right application of the law and the Constitution of the land, which we all have collectively pledged to uphold, we can go a long way to do those things that our conscience will be very proud of and the generality of the Nigerian citizens will equally be happy about.

“Every position we attain in life always avails us of that unique opportunity to do something novel and impactful, especially if there was any previous act of wrongdoing or misapplication of discretion.

“With Your Lordships’ elevation to the higher Bench today, you have to be very mindful of the enormous confidence the public is now reposing in you vis-à-vis their expectations.

“Like we often say, to whom much is given, much is expected. Your Lordships must not rest on your oars, as the onus now lies more heavily on you to discharge your judicial duties more dispassionately and transparently.

“So, you must, individually and collectively, guide your loins to do more to earn lasting trust and integrity. Your conduct and disposition must tally with the yearnings and aspirations of the generality of the citizenry.

“I have made it known at different fora that we have been treated to an unpalatable cocktail of misleading and conflicting judgments as well as trivolous interlocutory orders emanating from courts of coordinate jurisdictions, which have literally attempted to make a mockery of our judicial system and flagrantly desecrate the revered Temple of Justice.

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“Several cases of such abound across the length and breadth of the country. This is, largely, an embarrassment to our jurisprudence, and we will never handle it with levity. Punitive measures must definitely be meted out to such erring judges.

“We have already activated the process of reining in such errant judges with a view to making them face the consequences of their despicable and odious conduct.

“As judicial officers, we have to continually remind ourselves that we are not occupying our respective positions to serve ourselves but the Nigerian masses, and the best way we can serve them is by doing what will make them feel safe in our hands and also trust us to always deliver the right judgments that will not be tainted by sentiments, emotions, or other clandestine considerations.

“I congratulate your Lordships for making the list and wish you the best that you can achieve in this strategic position you now occupy.”

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