This is coming on the heels of the current legal tussle between the NJC and the Rivers State Government over the appointment of a substantive CJ for the Rivers State judiciary.
The CJN disclosed this while speaking yesterday at the opening ceremony of a judicial reforms conference with the theme “putting our best foot forward: the Judiciary and the challenges of satisfying justice needs of the 21 st century”, jointly organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Union (EU), Access to Justice (AJ) and the OSIWA which took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
The assessment according to the CJN would be conducted by the NJC even though it was going to be a tedious exercise.
She mentioned that the present NJC has been doing its best to ensure that only good judges are appointed.
She lamented that corruption has become a cankerworm that has refused to depart, adding that the NJC is trying to ensure the eradication of corrupt practices.
“We receive petitions and hear from both sides. Those affected would say they were not given fair hearing but they come with lawyers as much as six (6) Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN). The SANs are equally guilty because they would not see the accusation and still defend them (judges) which shows they are moving in tandem”, the CJN said.
President of the NBA, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN) said nobody should be appointed judicial officer without input from the Bar. He mentioned the the NJC has a lot of role to play in the appointment and discipline of judges.
Lawyers, according to the NBA President should be appointed not only as judges but also as judges in the appellate courts.
The NBA reiterated that government must recognize that it is only the existence of a virile, fearless and independent judiciary that can guarantee an enduring democratic government, and the maintenance of law and order.
Joseph Otteh, Director AJ in his welcome address said that the challenges of delivering justice in the 21 st century are huge and daunting, adding that there is increasing public distrust of the judiciary as well as disconnect from and disenchantment with the quality of services offered by the judiciary in many countries.
Those present at the conference include the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, Justice Mary Peter Odili, the Chief Justice of South Africa as well as several other CJs from Edo, Ondo, Yobe and the FCT High Court.
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