The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has warned against disobedience to orders issued by courts, stating that it would attract grave consequences.
The CJN issued the warning in Abuja on Friday at the launching of the 9th House of Representatives Legislative Agenda.
While the CJN did not mention a specific case, the warning is coming at a time when the Federal Government and security agencies are under criticisms for the continued detention of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, among several other Nigerians, despite court orders freeing them.
Muhammad, who was represented by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, stated that justice must be served without fear or favour while every law must be obeyed.
He said, “I will like to assure you that as you embark on this important voyage of national rebirth and reinvigoration through effective, people-oriented legislation, the judiciary is solidly behind you. Since our role is strictly limited to the interpretation of the laws of the land, we will not leave any stone unturned in that respect. You can rest assured that you already have a good and dependable ally in the Nigerian judiciary.
“We will on our part, as usual, vigorously pursue the observance of the rule of law by all citizens. There is no sacred cow anywhere, as no one is above the law, no matter his or her position in the society.
“Justice must be served without fear or favour. Every law of the land must be obeyed. Let me assure everyone present here that the consequences of disobeying lawful court orders will be too grave to bear. We all should gird our loins to do our constitutionally assigned duties with due diligence so that Nigeria can be the pride of everyone.”
The CJN also warned the National Assembly against using its powers carelessly, stating that the stability of the country rested on the parliament.
Also, Muhammad has asked the Senate to amend the constitution to reduce judges’ workloads.
He said an urgent review and amendment that the 1999 Constitution would ensure, among others, that all manner of cases did not have to terminate at the Supreme Court.
The CJN stated these on Thursday evening when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters paid an oversight visit to his office.
He said the number of appeals pending and those received so far this year were “mind-boggling”.
Justice Muhammad said the Supreme Court remained the busiest apex court in the world.
He told the Senate panel headed by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele that it was necessary for the National Assembly to amend the constitution.
The CJN said, “Many of us don’t sleep for 12 hours as recommended by stress managers.
“We don’t write judgment merely by stating that so-and-so cases were filed by this and that and end it up by saying appeal is hereby dismissed or upheld.
“We have to give reasons and that is the bedrock of judgment writing. The Nigerian judiciary is one of the best in the world and if nobody has told you, I am telling you today.
“The constitution enjoins the Supreme Court to have 21 justices, yet we are having less than that number. We have to appoint more justices to fill the gap soon.”
He also complained about the funds yearly allocated to the judiciary, saying the judiciary was highly underfunded.
He said, “If you see the amount allocated to the judiciary, it is far less than what is given to some ministries.”