Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria on Thursday, said the judiciary resisted attempts to scuttle the 2015 elections. The former CJN, made the disclosure on Thursday at the valedictory court session held in his honour at the Supreme Court in Abuja. Justice Mohammed also said he worked to strengthen the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary and the need to protect it from “undue influence” was part of his key concerns.
According to the ex-CJN said, “Our nation owes the judiciary a debt of gratitude for standing firm in the face of contrary winds that threatened to blow our nation’s democracy off course.
“During the run up to the 2015 elections, our judicial officers withstood immense pressure in order to guarantee a level playing field and smooth transition of government, which ensured that we were spared a re-enactment of the June 12 saga.
“In fact, the courts, thus securing the electoral process, disallowed so many frivolous matters aimed at truncating the electoral process.”
“I am proud to be a part of the Supreme Court which refused to be cowered into truncating the electoral process.” the ex CJN concluded.
While calling for a concerted efforts from members of the bar and bench for the restoration of the dwindling reputation of the judicial system, he urged his successor, Justice Walter Onnoghen not to relent in efforts at ridding the Judiciary of bad eggs.
Speaking on behalf of the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Thompson Okpoko,SAN, argued that the judiciary should be held responsible for the crisis of confidence ravaging the institution. He stated that the authorities failed to act when signs of the current situation were rearing their heads many years ago.
“…We, in the profession (both the Bar and the Bench), have kept a blind eye to our problems for far too long. We have looked on the other side when improprieties and disgraceful conduct are manifesting themselves right in front of us.
*We have been soft in matters that require stern handling. We have allowed rules to be twisted or bent because ‘it will adversely affect our people.’
“We have sacrificed merits on the altar of geographical spread when we know that no matter how much we spread, we cannot cover everyone and everywhere”, he noted.