Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, has warned members of the election petition tribunals against corrupt and other unethical acts that could bring the judiciary into ridicule.
The CJN issued the warning, yesterday, while administering oath of office on 39 additional judges appointed for the National Assembly, governorship and Houses of Assembly election petition tribunals.
He said the need to appoint additional judges for the various election petition tribunals was due to the large volume of petitions filed after the last general election.
The 39 are to work with the 307 earlier sworn in on November 7, 2022 who are already sitting in various tribunals.
Although it is the statutory responsibility of the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) to appoint members of election petition tribunals, the CJN is vested with the powers to administer the oath of office on them.
Ariwoola urged the judges not to betray their oath of office, and shun conduct capable of casting the judiciary in bad light.
“You have just taken an oath that has not only imposed a course of upright morale undertaking on you, but equally looped you with destiny.
“Your participation in these tribunals at this crucial phase of the Nigerian judiciary is not by accident but a clear design of the Almighty God.
“This is an enormous national assignment that will literally put the contents of your conscience to test. I am convinced this is not the first oath you have taken as judicial officers, and certainly won’t be your last, especially as you ascend the ladder of your career.
“No amount of homily can convey the enormity of this task. But suffice it to say you are already initiating an interaction with history. Whatever action or inaction you exhibit today will serve as your testament in the annals of the Nigerian judiciary.
“As judicial officers, you may have, one way or the other, trodden this somewhat dreaded terrain, but you must, against all odds, rise above the murky waters of failure and infamy.
“The onus is on you to keep aloft the banner of honesty and integrity the judiciary has painstakingly hoisted over the years.
“Your appointment to serve in these tribunals is well conceived, thus, you should do everything within your ability to justify this confidence.
“There is no doubt you will be exposed to different forms of temptations and even blackmails, but you should know all are aimed at testing your strength of character, honesty and integrity.
“My candid advice is that, in whatever circumstance, you should always be mindful of this oath you have just taken because it now stands as an uncompromising witness between you and your creator.
“It behooves you to willingly submit yourselves to the sanctity of the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution in the discharge of your judicial functions.
“It is the general belief that elections held when the rule of law is too fragile, seldom lead to lasting democratic governance.
“You are enjoined to always strike a balance between justice and rule of law as you embark on this critical national assignment.
“As you all know, rule of law delayed, is lasting peace denied because justice is a handmaiden of true peace. We need this in Nigeria more than ever before.
“The trumpet must first sound from the temple of justice; hence we put you forward as champions of this noble cause.
“By the virtue of this oath, you are now armed with the power to adjudicate on electoral disputes and take decisions in accordance with your convictions, which must be deeply rooted in law and not sentiments or public opinion.
“I pray the Almighty God will grant you the courage and wisdom to carry out this responsibility without faltering or failing,” the CJN said.