The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, on Monday called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to crusade stronger for the rule of law.
Muhammad also called on judicial officers to serve justice at all times, saying that Nigeria’s peace was resting on the balance of scale of justice.
The CJN made the call at the opening of the 61st Annual General Conference of the NBA, at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
The conference had the theme: “Taking the Lead”, with a weeklong event being held both physically and virtually.
The CJN was represented by Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court.
Muhammad said that the Nigerian Bar had remained at the forefront in the comity of bars in Africa.
“Let me state that what has stood the Nigerian Bar out in the comity of bars in Africa is not just the number of its members.
“What gave the Nigerian Bar its pride of place is its leadership role and comradeship in using the law as the instrument of social engineering and a veritable weapon for the liberation of the African race from the shackles of colonialism and dictatorship,” he said.
According to him, pages of history are littered with stories of exploits by Nigerian lawyers, who contributed in no small measure to the administration and development of Nigeria’s laws.
He said that the theme of the conference served as a call to action.
“The NBA has, in its wisdom, themed this year’s conference “Taking the Lead”.
“I believe that the theme is a call to action for members to be awakened to the true character of the foremost African Bar, which has endured over the ages,” he said.
He advised that the conference should serve as a reminder, to lawyers, of their roles in carrying on the heritage of the leading fathers of the legal profession.
The CJN noted that the challenges facing the nation were enormous.
Muhammad said that the COVID-19 pandemic added to the challenges.
“In various fora, I have encouraged my brother judges and justices to see the administration of justice as one of the fundamental solutions to some of the nation’s crises.
“The peace of the nation rests on the balance of the scale of justice, and our courts must ensure that justice is served at all times,” he said.
According to him, some of the nation’s challenges are within immediate control.
He urged that all hands should on deck to tackle the challenges.
The CJN also said that some of the challenges facing the judiciary could be addressed with the support of the bar.
“I must, however, not shy away from stating that not all the challenges that the judiciary face can be internally addressed.
‘’Some demand the support of the bar.
“One of them is the poor condition of service of judicial officers,” he said.
Muhammad expressed optimism that the bar and the bench would continue to work together in addressing issues affecting the legal system.
NAN reports that more than 10,000 lawyers are participating in the conference.