Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, yesterday urged chairmen and members of the election petition tribunals to deliver judgements based on merits of cases before them and jettison sentiments.
Mohammad said that cases arising from the 2019 general elections must be guided by the rule of law. The acting CJN stated these at the swearing-in ceremony of additional 17 members of the election petition tribunals. Muhammad had on 26th January sworn in 250 members of the 2019 election petition tribunals.
While swearing-in the additional members, Muhammad said judicious adjudication of electoral matters brought before the tribunals, goes a long way in determining the peace in country. Muhammed who was joined by 7 other justices of the Supreme Court to administer the oath of office on the tribunal members noted that the task before the election petition panel is an onerous one that would impact heavily upon the Judiciary and the nation as a whole and as such they cannot afford to fail. “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, the 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 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”, he said. He however urged all tribunal members to submit themselves to the sanctity of the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution in the discharge of their judicial functions, adding that their participation in these tribunals at this crucial phase of the Nigerian Judiciary is not by accident but a clear design of the Almighty God.
Although, the acting CJN acknowledged that tribunal members would in the course of their duties encounter a lot of temptations and blackmails, he urged them to understand the blackmails as a test of their 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”, he added.