The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, says the legal profession will not lead the country if lawyers and judges indulge in reckless behaviour in their official duties.
Mr Muhammad spoke on Tuesday in Abuja while swearing in Husseini Baba-Yusuf as the substantive Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja.
His assertion is coming on the heels of the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which is taking place in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
The CJN spoke against the backdrop of The NBA’s 61st AGC tagged ‘Taking the Lead.’
He said the legal profession should take the lead in all human endeavours but pointed out the impediments.
“We cannot take the lead when our courts issue ex-parte orders recklessly. We cannot take the lead when many litigants with support of their counsel engage in forum shopping.
“We cannot take the lead when counsel file a case before a court that they know lacks jurisdiction and the Judge proceeds to hear the case. We cannot take the lead when counsel files frivolous cases in our courts just for nuisance value or to buy time,” Mr Muhammad said.
It will be recalled that the CJN had in September warned heads of courts to prevail on their colleagues to stop the gale of conflicting orders that had hit the judiciary, which he described as “nonsense.”
The CJN recalled his warning to “judges to desist from engaging themselves in unwholesome practices that will erode public confidence in the administration of justice.”
Calling for self-assessment and cleansing, the CJN said: “All hands must, therefore, be on deck from both the bar and the bench to rid the legal profession of bad eggs.”
He added that the administration of justice is the bedrock of not only democratic or civilised societies, but it also extends beyond the borders of civilised nations.
“No society can afford to discard administration of justice,” Mr Muhammad concluded.
Charge to new Chief Juge
In his charge to the Mr Baba-Yusuf, the CJN reminded him of the huge responsibilities on his shoulders, saying “As head of court, your burden becomes heavier.”
Mr Muhammad urged the substantive CJ of the FCT High Court to be “just and fair to your brother Judges, the management, staff, and most importantly to the litigants.”
Mr Baba-Yusuf was sworn in an acting capacity in August after a 10-day vacuum occasioned by President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to the United Kingdom, a situation that left lawyers and Nigerians in a quandary.
He replaced Garba Salisu who resigned to take up an appointment as the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), the training institute for Nigerian judges and judiciary officials
Mr Salisu’s resignation paved the way for Mr Baba-Yusuf to be appointed the acting Chief Judge before the conclusion of the procedure for his appointment in substantive capacity.
The new Chief Judge’s swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday was attended by the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, and the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, among other dignitaries.
The 59-year-old Chief Judge, Mr Baba-Yusuf, was born in Ankpa Local Government Area of Kogi State on June 1, 1962.
He attended LGEA Primary School, Ankpa, from 1966 to 1971.
He also attended St Charles College between 1972 to 1976.
He had his A-Level education at the School of Basic Studies, Ugbokolo, Benue State, from 1977 to 1980.
He gained admission into the University of Lagos in 1980, and obtained the LLB in 1983.
He proceeded to the Nigerian Law School and was called to the bar 1984.
He thereafter underwent the national youth service organised by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which he completed in 1985.
Mr Baba-Yusuf began his legal career by joinning the services of the Kogi State judiciary in 1985 as Magistrate Grade II and rose through the rank, becoming the Chief Registrar of the state High Courti in 1993.
He later joined the services of the FCT Judiciary on transfer of service same year, and was appointed High Court Judge in 1998.
The 59-year-old Baba-Yusuf will be the FCT judiciary’s helmsman till his attainment of the retirement age of 65 in six years’ time.
He currently handles high-profile corruption cases, including the celebrated trial of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, with others accused of diverting funds meant for arms procurement under the ex-President Goodluck Jonathan administration.