Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday took oath as the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, with a mandate to work hard and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the nation’s judicial system.
Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo gave the mandate while swearing in the latest Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Osinbajo had noted that “from this day, March 7, 2017, Justice Onnoghen becomes the custodian and protector of the highest duties that society owes its people, fairness, justice and truth,” also described the responsibility as “awesome.”
According to him, “it is the closest that man serves as the Almighty God having powers of lives, livelihoods and futures, having power to give and indeed to take away power, and authority to supervise all men and women to whom our law and constitution give the position of judgeship.”
The Acting President noted that “since we do not force men and women to be judges, they voluntarily take on the position of high priests in the temple of justice.
“They will, of course, be held to a much higher standard, a much higher moral and ethical standard than the rest of us. They must not only be seen to be just they must be just indeed.
“The mere perception of judicial malfeasance poisons the waters of justice let alone the reality. While delays in the administration of justice often defeats the ends of justice.”
He charged Justice Onnoghen to remember that he is assuming the position at a crucial time in the nation’s history, at a time when all arms of government have suffered the loss confidence of the people of this nation and is so also with the judiciary.
He therefore reminded him that “it is a time when our lords and justices of our courts are called upon to resuscitate that confidence that the people of this nation want to have in the institutions of government and indeed in the judiciary.”
Acting President Osinbajo also used the opportunity to inform Nigerians that President Buhari was doing well in his base in London saying that he had conversations with the him wherein he extended his warm congratulations to the new Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“Yesterday, I had a discussion with President Buhari. Not only did he extend his personal warm wishes and congratulations, he asked that I personally convey that to you, and I do so now.
“I congratulate you on behalf of Mr. President, all members of your family and the entire judiciary. I believe that the choice that the people of this nation have made is a right choice indeed and I pray that you will leave up to all of the expectations deed, I pray that the almighty God will guide and direct you as you deliver on all of the promises and expectations of the people of this nation.”
In his response, the new CJN declared that it was indeed his “pleasure to be here to keep this appointment with history.
“I’m very much grateful to God and Mr. President and to the Senate for finding me worthy. I had earlier on November 10, 2016 been sworn-in as the acting Chief Justice by the president. Today happens to be the final milestone and I am very much grateful to God, and Mr. President for this singular privilege and to the Senate for also screening me and finding me worthy to occupy this office.”
Justice Onnoghen, who recalled how the journey started earlier on the November 10, 2016, assured of his loyalty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and asked for special grace of God to keep to the oath of office.
“I solicit the cooperation of everybody, there are three arms of government and this three arms belong to the same government. We should explore areas of cooperation to enable us move the country forward.”
The new CJN promised to ensure that all Nigerians, irrespective of class, respect the rule of law, adding that he will work hard to ensure that the right thing is done at the right time in the judiciary.
“On my part as the head of the judiciary, I assure you that from the past experience, the key to everything in a democratic setting is adherence to the rule of law. There lies the solution to our problems.
“Let us try to encourage the independence of the judiciary so as to ensure the rule of law. If everyone realise that they are subject to the rule of law and that there are certain things that are tackled according to the rule of law and behave accordingly, it will benefit all of us.
“I thank the Senate for the wonderful job, the stimulating session, I assure you I enjoyed every bit of it, I have no regrets.”
“And to Nigerians of all walks of life, of all faith, who have kept faith with this, we had prayed without ceasing, some had even fasted, I say thank you very much. I urge you to continue to pray for this country because if you notice, there has been peace. All those pressure that was mounting everything just died down and that is to the glory of God. I’m eternally grateful to Nigerians.”
“To my family, justices of the Supreme Court, your cooperation has been unquantifiable and I solicit your cooperation so as to be able to carry out this assignment. To God almighty, I say thank You.”