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CJN rejects call for judges’ association, says role is adjudication, not advocacy

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Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria, says the mandate of judicial officers in the country is adjudication and not advocacy.  

Onnoghen stated this on Wednesday in Abuja at the public presentation of the first edition of the Supreme Court’s quarterly magazine, ‘Apex Quarterly’, where he rejected the call for the formation of an association of Nigerian judges.

His words: “I recall that during an interactive session I had with participants at the 2017 All Nigeria Judges’ Conference in November 2017, a judge from one of the jurisdictions advocated the formation of an Association of Nigerian Judges to speak up for the judiciary when it is attacked, much like the Nigerian Bar Association does for lawyers, since sitting judicial officers cannot grant media interviews.

“The honourable judge’s position was that periodic press statements issued after the meetings of the National Judicial Council are too few and far between to make any impact.

“My obvious response was an emphatic ‘No!’ The mandate of a judicial officer is adjudication, and not advocacy.

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“However, a publication like the one we are unveiling today will, like a literature, chronicle events of the judiciary of this era for posterity.”

The association was proposed to speak on behalf of the judiciary when attacked, much like the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) does for lawyers.

In rejecting the proposal, Onnoghen said the mandate of a judge was adjudication, rather than advocacy.

He said the Apex Quarterly Magazine was part of the initiatives aimed at improving public perception of the judiciary.

“At the assumption of office, I unveiled a reform agenda that would consolidate on the achievement of my predecessors to make the Nigerian judiciary one of the best in the world.

“One of the reform items was directed at improving the public perception of the judiciary.

“I consider the poor public perception of our arm of government a grave concern that requires special effort to correct by telling the world the true state of things in the judiciary.”

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