…The silence of the judiciary should never be mistaken for stupidity or weakness.
…“We shall begin to resist any clandestine attempt to silence or ridicule us to oblivion.”
… “Those taking judiciary as a mere weakling will soon realize that “it is from the calmest seas we often experience the fiercest storms”.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Wednesday, carried out the swearing in of 72 newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) in Abuja.
While administering the oath, Justice Muhamad warned that the Judiciary will begin to rise up against what he described as “clandestine attempt” to silence it in the discharge of its lawful judicial functions.
The CJN spoke against the recent siege on the residence of the second most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Mary Peter-Odili, by alleged security operatives.
Justice Muhammad, who noted that the Judiciary would begin to assert itself so as to become the pride of the nation, stated that the Judiciary has had enough of embarrassment of its judicial officers and would no longer take it kindly in the event of any repeat of the ugly treatment to judges from security operatives.
“On a very sad note, I must say, we were jolted with embarrassingly news of the invasion of the official residence of one of our brother Justices, Hon Justice Mary Peter Odili on Friday, October 29 by men suspected to be security operatives, acting on a search warrant.
“The said warrant was purportedly obtained from an Abuja magistrate’s court under questionable circumstances.
“I must make it known to all and sundry that we have had enough dosage of such embarrassment and harassment of our judicial officers across the country and we can no longer take any of such shenanigans.
“The silence of the judiciary should never be mistaken for stupidity or weakness,” he said.
“We shall begin to resist any clandestine attempt to silence or ridicule us to oblivion.
“Nigeria, to the best of my knowledge, is not a lawless society. We should begin to do things that will project us favorably and rightly too, to the international community.
“No law permits anyone to invade, subdue or overawe any Nigerian citizen in his or her residence with a flimsy, fraudulently obtained search warrant,” he added.
The CJN noted that by the nature of their work, they are conservative but not conquered species and should not be pushed further than this by any individual, institution or agency of the government.
He assured Nigerians that very soon, those taking judiciary as a mere weakling will soon realize that “it is from the calmest seas we often experience the fiercest storms”.
He therefore stated that: “No one, irrespective of his or her status or position in the country, should test our will because the consequences of such unwarranted provocation will be too dire to bear.
“We are making efforts now to ensure that henceforth, every search or arrest warrant must be issued with the knowledge and approval of the Chief Judge of the respective state or Federal High Court as the case may be.”
He equally used the opportunity to lament the setback caused by the protracted strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), saying it came with excruciating impact on the smooth dispensation of justice.
Rank of Senior Advocate is conferred on deserving lawyers in both the advocate and academic categories.
The eminent legal practitioners have been thoroughly screened, examined and found worthy in character and practice to be conferred with the highly coveted rank by the Legal Practitioners privileges Committee (LPPC).
The activity marks the special session of the Supreme Court and the commencement of the 2021/2022 legal year.
Muhammad who described the ceremony as age-long tradition noted that the new SANs have, in all ramifications and by all standards, excelled in the practice of law and subsequently conferred with the rank.
While charging Judges to do quick self-assessment in the line of duty, he further urged them to forge ahead with the right mindset and disposition to attain more impactful results.
He said, “The Supreme Court, and by extension, the Nigerian Judiciary, have fared well in the outgone legal year even though the horizon was literally roughened by overwhelming challenges.
“As this new legal year unfolds, we will like to assure you that we are determined to work assiduously to evolve a judiciary that will remarkably be the pride of Nigerians, home and abroad.”
Also speaking at the event, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, described the conferment of SANship as privileges.
Malami who praised the judiciary said the arm of government has continued to complement other arms of government in spite of emerging challenges foisted on it by COVID 19, insecurity and dwindling economy, saying the judiciary has helped in the preservation of the country’s hard earned democracy.
“I want to state categorically that the LPPC have done a good job by putting forward deserving and qualifying lawyers, saying they must ensure that due process is followed in subsequent selection,” Malami added.