The Chief Justices of Nigeria CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on Wednesday, said the country’s judiciary was not at pleasant times following the rise in the number of cases pending before various courts.
Justice Ariwoola said it is an undisputed fact that Nigeria continuously ranks among the most litigious countries in the world.
The CJN, however, said Nigerians must begin to imbibe the culture of less litigation and more of alternative dispute resolution to free the courts of unnecessary burden and depletion of human and material resources.
Justice Ariwoola spoke at the Supreme Court while inaugurating the nine newly appointed Justices of the Court of Appeal.
Giving reasons for the continued rise in court cases, the CJN said the level of novel crimes committed in the country has now kept litigations on a steady rise.
He said, “Political cases, especially, are taking a monumental toll on our dockets. Indeed, the times we are in are not pleasant, to say the least.
“No court in the land is spared of this. We are constantly on our toes and the dockets are ever-rising in response to the challenges of the time.
“This underscores the undisputed fact that Nigeria continuously ranks among the most litigious countries in the world.
“I strongly believe it is high time we began to imbibe the culture of less litigation and more alternative dispute resolution mechanisms so that our courts can be freed of unnecessary burden and depletion of both human and material resources.
“However, the onus squarely rests on your Lordships to fasten your belt and roll up your sleeves to face the challenges head-on.
“You must redouble your pace to catch up with the expectations of the litigants. As judicial officers, you have a divine mandate on earth that you must discharge with unveiled honesty and sincerity.
“You must give good account of yourselves to justify your elevation to the Court of Appeal so that you can subsequently earn an elevation to the Supreme Court to further actualize your dreams.
The CJN warned the new Appeal Court Justices to avoid running foul of the law by running away from all forms of corruption and temptations.
He reminded them that the oath administered on them to assume office as Justices of the Court of Appeal is a solemn pledge and a commitment to good conduct in the course of their adjudication, especially as senior judicial officers in the appellate court.
“We are not here for long speeches but simply to realign your minds with what is expected of you at this very high and enviable level of adjudication.
“Many high profile cases would definitely come to you on appeal; and they may likely come in some juicy and irresistible gifts that are often intended to dent your reputation and integrity.
“I admonish Your Lordships to flee from such disguised temptations because your reputation and integrity matter much and count enormously in your rise to honour and fame in life.
“So, you should endeavour to always hold your heads high by auditing your conduct on a regular basis in order not to fall on the wrong side of the law.
“I have said it severally that in life, gifts and wealth that are not worked for, which are by extension, undeserving, are always destructive and calamitous in nature.
“I pray that Your Lordships don’t fall into such snare in the course of your ascension to the pinnacle of your career.
“You must, against all odds, conduct your affairs within the ambit of the law and the oath that has just been administered to you.
“The level of public scrutiny of your conduct will, henceforth, assume astronomical dimension because you have willingly taken up an appointment that will strategically place you perennially in the eye of the storm.
“The tempo and rate of public assessment of your conduct and disposition have also instantaneously assumed an unprecedented spike from this moment.
“You must redouble your effort and dialogue properly with your conscience in order not to fall out of the grace of the Almighty God and the Nigerian people who are curiously looking up to you.
“It takes nothing to join the crowd but it takes a lot to stand alone with a good conscience”, the CJN said.