Address By His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Gcfr, At The 2011 Biennial All Nigeria Judges' Conference, At Andrews Otutu Obaseki Auditorium, National Judicial Institute, Abuja Holding From 21st - 25th November, 2011
1. It gives me pleasure to address this distinguished gathering of Judges of the Superior courts of our Country on the occasion of this 2011 Biennial All Nigeria Judges’ Conference.
2. Let me use this occasion to express my appreciation of the manner in which the entire Nigerian Judiciary, the third arm of the Government and indeed the last hope of the common man has carried out its duties.
3. Indeed, the theme of this year’s Conference; Towards the Sustenance of Judicial Ethics in Nigeria, could not have come at a better time.
4. The theme, I dare say, aptly tallies with our desire to effect the transformation of the entire polity. If our transformation agenda is to succeed and the Nigerian Project is to be a reality, then the Judiciary must continue to sustain its ethics and discharge its constitutional role and responsibilities creditably and within the purview of the Constitution.
5. The theme of the Conference is also a reflection of the desire of the leadership of the judiciary to sustain those age-long ethical values to which the judiciary is associated.
6. Fair dispensation of justice is a core value of the judiciary. Fairness, Impartiality, Integrity and Incorruptibility are also values that the judiciary is expected to hold dear and individual judges must take seriously.
7. Those who drafted the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) must have taken cognizance of these ethics of the Judiciary when, in Section 6 thereof, they conferred all judicial powers on the Courts established by the Constitution.
8. Distinguished delegates, your ability to discharge your constitutional responsibilities is hinged, among others, on keeping to these ethics which are indeed unique to the Judiciary. This, no doubt, will continue to earn you the much desired public confidence and trust in your institutions.
9. I must state for the records that the Nigerian Judiciary has contributed immensely to the growth, development and continued unity of Nigeria as a country. Your Lordships have, at some of the most critical periods in our history as a Nation, come to prove yourselves as the bridge and the unifying arm of Government.
10. No one can deny the importance of the judiciary to the stability of our nation. As a government established on the foundation of the rule of law, we will continue to respect the independence of the Judiciary and provide you with all the support you might need to carry out your duties.
11. Our administration is, however, concerned about the slow dispensation of Justice in several cases. We have hundreds of our people spending long periods in jail just waiting for their trials to commence. This means that accused persons are consigned to a life of misery and pain even before their guilt or innocence is established. Besides, justice is unwittingly delayed. If the judiciary must continue to enjoy the confidence of the populace, the wheel of justice must move more speedily and must be seen to be doing so, without any compromises.
We are determined to provide whatever support that may be needed to tackle this challenge.
12. I urge you all to continue to remain focused, undaunted and continue to hold firmly to your oath of office. Remember at all times that whenever you decide cases, you are by that singular act putting yourselves on trial before the public.
13. Before I conclude my address, I would like to commend the industry of the leadership of the Judiciary in putting together a Conference of this nature. I have gone through the topics slated for discussion and I must say that they are of both national and international appeal.
14. The topics are apt, relevant and germane. I am also impressed by the quality of invited Chairmen of Sessions and Speakers. I want to specially thank Hon. Justice (Prof.) Emmanuel Akomaye-Agim, the Hon. Chief Justice of the Republic of Gambia, for making time out to attend this Conference.
15. His Lordship’s presence at this Conference, no doubt, is a testimony to the positive international image of the National Judicial Institute, the organizers of this Conference, in particular and the Nigerian Judiciary in general. I cannot but thank the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria for his determination to sustain and further build on the foundation already laid, especially in the area of judicial reforms.
16. My Lords, let me commend you to the wise words of encouragement of Hon. Justice (Sir) Gerrard Brennam, the Chief Justice of Australia, as he then was, as follows:
“A Judge’s role is to serve the community in the pivotal role of administering justice according to law. Your office gives you that opportunity and that is a privilege. Your office requires you to serve and that is a duty. No doubt there were a number of other reasons, personal and professional for accepting appointment, but the judge will not succeed and will not find satisfaction in his or her duties unless there is continued realization of the importance of the community service that is rendered”.
17. I urge you to continue to render your service to our community, the Nigerian Nation, to the best of your ability and ignore all forms of distractions. I assure you that our Government, in the pursuit of its Transformation Agenda, will continue to support your institution within the available resources and within the limit of the Constitution.
18. It is my singular honour to formally declare the 2011 Biennial All Nigerian Judges’ Conference open.
19. I wish you all an intellectually stimulating and rewarding Conference.
20. I thank you all for your attention.