The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, on Thursday, justified the appointment of 39 additional judges to serve in election tribunals citing the avalanche of petitions from the 2023 general elections.
The 39 judges were on Thursday administered the oath of office by the CJN with a mandate to quickly rise up to the challenges posed by the piled up petitions.
The CJN, while congratulating the new members, advised them to give their very best to the country at this point in time.
“I congratulate your Lordships for being found worthy to be appointed as additional members of the 2023 Election Petition Tribunals that have already started sitting over the avalanche of petitions that have begun to stream in, immediately after the general elections that took place on February 25 and March 18, 2023 respectively.
“You have just taken an oath that has not only imposed a course of upright moral 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”, Justice Ariwoola said.
The CJN, who observed that elections held when the rule of law is too fragile, seldom lead to lasting democratic governance, enjoined the new tribunal members to always strike a balance between justice and rule of law as they 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 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”, the CJN harped.
While observing that this is not the first oath the members are taking as judicial officers, and certainly won’t be the last, especially as they ascend the ladder of their career, he warned that “whatever action or inaction you exhibit today will serve as your testament in the annals of the Nigerian judiciary”.
Adding that, as judicial officers, “You must, against all odds, rise above the murky waters of failure and infamy”.
Ariwoola said that the members no doubt will be exposed to different forms of temptations and even blackmails but he expected them to be mindful of the “oath you have just taken because it now stands as an uncompromising witness between you and your creator”.